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Anyone for the serial comma?

Discussion in 'English' started by markuss, Dec 14, 2015.

  1. markuss

    markuss Occasional commenter

    One little thing it says in the framework for GPS (key Stage 1) that strikes me as being odd:

    4.4.4 The use of the serial comma

    The mark will not be awarded if a serial comma is used in a list of single items, e.g.

    We bought apples, cheese, and milk.

    Who has decided that the "Oxford" comma (so called because it is the style of the OUP) is incorrect?

    Has this been published "gov think" in the past? Perhaps it isn't an oddity if that's what you've been trained to think and what you've had to teach but it's still a popular style in the UK and who's to say it's wrong?
  2. roamingteacher

    roamingteacher Established commenter Forum guide

    In the sample paper, this is exactly what the mark is awarded for. Unless I'm missing something.
  3. markuss

    markuss Occasional commenter

    Oh. That's even stranger, then!
  4. CaptGrimesRetd

    CaptGrimesRetd Occasional commenter

    Ah, the Oxford comma - a source of innocent delight.

    On the 5.15 from Paddington I met the Chancellor of the Exchequer, an expert on Satanic rituals and an avid collector of Victorian erotica.

    I should like to dedicate this book to my parents, Major Percy Grimes and God.
  5. thinkypublishing

    thinkypublishing Occasional commenter

    It's not 'incorrect' it's just that they've decreed that for their purposes it's not valid. Publishers etc. do the same by having their own 'style guides' which determine how writing should conform with their house style - this prevents arguments about what's 'right' or 'wrong' because there is no right or wrong for most of this stuff.

    More weird than this is how they've determined an exclamation should be used.
  6. markuss

    markuss Occasional commenter

    Right. Are they saying "!" is only acceptable if the sentence has the grammar of an exclamation?

    "What a mess!" Yes.
    "This is a fine mess!" No.
  7. thinkypublishing

    thinkypublishing Occasional commenter

    Pretty much! (oops)
  8. markuss

    markuss Occasional commenter

    OK. (It smacks of making the language fit the test!)
  9. thinkypublishing

    thinkypublishing Occasional commenter

    Well it simplifies things by making it clear how they expect punctuation to be taught and used for their purposes.

    The problem is that many will assume the guidance to be a matter of absolute right and wrong. And in the future many of these will delight in ridiculing others for doing things like beginning a sentence with 'and' or sticking a comma somewhere they feel uncomfortable with.
  10. markuss

    markuss Occasional commenter


    As a teacher, I've been told by children that I've made a big mistake by starting a sentence with "And..." or "But..." And it wasn't easy to explain (tactfully) why their previous teacher had misled them.
    thinky likes this.

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