Among English majors and writers there is this debate on the acceptance of the Oxford comma. In case you don’t know what it is, here is an example:
red, blue, and yellow (versus) red, blue and yellow
The blue comma above is what is called the Oxford comma. It stands as a separator between a serial item and “and” followed by the final item of said list. Now many of you would think this is not a big deal, but in fact it is.
A funny example, which inform my claim, of why the Oxford comma is essential for clarity is:
“We invited the strippers, JFK, and Stalin.” (versus) “We invited the strippers, JFK and Stalin.”
In the latter sentence “JFK and Stalin” are interpreted as the names of the strippers that were invited. I’m pretty sure that’s not what was meant. Therefore, using the Oxford comma in an instance like this can provide clarity and understanding, so the reader and writer are on the same page.
I know many Brits don’t use it because I have quite a few friends at Kingston University, London, who don’t.
Now in serial lists in which one would not run the risk of renaming some strippers one invited, I can see an argument in which one would not use the Oxford comma. However, I feel like one should always use it just to remain consistency and not confuse readers and grammar enthusiasts, if, of course, one chooses to use it in the beginning.
Anyway, that’s my two cents about it.