There’s no denying that commas are helpful little flecks of punctuation. They allow us to separate written clauses and do good work when especially numerous or complicated groups of things exist in a single sentence. But do we really need them? That’s a trickier question. In some ways commas are…
This is an intriguing article brought to my attention by Scott Abel on his Facebook page. The article sparked an interesting discussion on his feed. I will agree with one comment made on his feed (by my friend, Barry S.) which stated that the debate about commas will probably rage on, but what will start to become more obsolete is printed dictionaries, since language is always changing and the Internet can keep up with those changes much more quickly now. (The same probably applies to the thesaurus, too, I suppose.)
I will admit that I’m very much an "old school" grammarian, in that I cherish my Oxford commas. While there might be general understanding without the commas, there is better understanding WITH the commas and other punctuation. Social media, especially Twitter, is not made for being grammatically correct. You only have 140 characters to work with, after all! (Although I try my best to use proper grammar in tweets as much as I can.) But social media is not a report, a book, an informational pamplet, or an instructional manual. In these types of publications, whether in print or digital, proper grammar is highly necessary to ensure that the message or instruction is understood completely. If certain commas were left out of instructions for a medical procedure, that could have dire consequences! Seriously! Think about it. While it might seem "ancient practices" to use commas and some other grammatical marks, for more formalized writing, they really need to stay. They’ve lasted a few hundred years already successfully. Don’t fix what isn’t broken!
What do you think? Put your comments below.