Oxford Comma Wins Again

I recently read this sentence in a publication:

In life’s darkest moments, when nothing can minimize the unveiled devastation of a terminal diagnosis, news of a loved one’s death, a wayward spouse, drug use turned into addiction or crushing debt, do you value the offer of rescue?

You know what I thought when I read that?

How does drug use turn into crushing debt?

I realize debt usually goes along with drug use, as people waste money they have, run out, and still have to find money to continue their addiction. Plus, as we all learned in school, Drugs Are Really Expensive.

But I think that was not the idea they wanted to convey with that sentence. And I think the Oxford Comma would have helped clarify their thoughts. Here’s how I would re-write the sentence:

In life’s darkest moments – when nothing can minimize the unveiled devastation of a terminal diagnosis, news of a loved one’s death, a wayward spouse, drug use turned into addiction, or crushing debt – do you value the offer of rescue?

See how there is a comma between each separate item in the sentence, leaving no ambiguity for the reader. I see why they thought they should avoid the comma – it made for too many commas because of their clauses. But using hyphens to separate the clauses frees up the commas so that one can be used for the list.

Return, O Lord, rescue my soul; Save me because of Your lovingkindness.

Psalm 6:4

Digg Del.icio.us Reddit Stumble Upon

This little article thingy was written by Some Guy sometime around 8:04 am and has been carefully placed in the Mishaps category.

Leave a Reply

Comment moderation: please do not submit your comment multiple times, as comments are not posted until I approve them. If your comment never appears, that probably means that I didn't like your comment (maybe off topic, maybe spam, maybe not family-friendly, etc.).

Check this box to be notified of additional comments to this post. Notification will be sent to the email address you provided above. You can also subscribe without commenting.