Personal statement grammar advice please
Wednesdaypig · 02/11/2018 18:48
Is there anyone here who reads personal statements and can help? Dd2 is applying for a masters and during her degree was told to put an Oxford comma in a list which is going against what she was taught at school. Dp was checking the ps and has ringed every one as an error. What do you think she should do? Is an Oxford comma generally acceptable or will they think she failed KS1 grammar? Or are we overthinking it and no one will care? Tia
thereallochnessmonster · 02/11/2018 18:54
Most people in the uk don’t use Oxford commas. If your dd does, make sure she uses them everywhere they are appropriate. The key is to be consistent.
On the other hand, if you need to use a comma in a list such as ‘I’d Like to thank my parents, Elvis, and God’, them the last comma ain’t an Oxford comma; it’s just a comma.
LuluJakey1 · 02/11/2018 18:59
thereal Why is that example not an Oxford comma? I would have said it was a prime example of one.
eddiemairswife · 02/11/2018 19:12
If it was 'my parents, Elvis and Madonna, and God' would that be an Oxford comma?
howabout · 02/11/2018 19:12
You want clear and concise. If you feel the need to litter the place with commas you should probably add some full stops and simplify the sentence structure. (could have added a comma after comma but would look clumsy / pedantic in standard UK business English imho)
Wednesdaypig · 02/11/2018 19:49
Thank you. Have done a little more reading on it and it doesn't appear to be used much especially in a straightforward list. If the meaning is ambiguous it would be simple just to rearrange. E.g. I'd like to thank Elvis, my parents and God. Hopefully after seeing the comments she'll agree to remove them.
eddiemairswife · 02/11/2018 20:12
The way I meant it was that the parents' names were Elvis and Madonna.
Wednesdaypig · 02/11/2018 20:16
Yes, in that case you would use one for clarity.
howabout · 02/11/2018 20:22
A neat illustration of why full stops and restructuring can be better. Even with commas it takes a couple of rereads for the penny to drop that the parents might be called Elvis and Madonna.
eddiemairswife · 02/11/2018 22:31
Perhaps it was confusing that I chose Elvis and Madonna (trying to be witty). Hoist by my own petard!!
ileclerc · 02/11/2018 23:32
Oxford commas aren't commonplace in the uk. There has recently been a massive law case in the us where a company that forgot the Oxford comma in a contract lost a law suit to the tune of $$$$$$$$$$$.
Are they looking to study law or go to US? If they are it might be more relevant now they answer.
ShineOnHarvestMoon · 02/11/2018 23:40
University tutor here - I live Oxford commas when used correctly. I wouldn’t notice them in a PS, tbh, except in a vaguely positive way.
Piggywaspushed · 03/11/2018 07:56
I think you are over thinking it. But , I assume they use up characters so that might be a reason to get rid of them...
I love an Oxford comma, and assume someone who uses them (correctly) understands fine nuances of sentence construction and communication. I doubt universities' admissions people have time to ponder these things, though!
We have a team of so called proofreaders for reports at my place and it drives me barmy when they arbitrarily remove some staff's carefuly placed commas!
And, yes, the comma above was deliberate and I have no idea if it's an Oxford comma but I liked it there
Xenia · 03/11/2018 11:18
I would take them out given the problems with not enough space for letters and words on the PS.
In the Madonna example I would put brackets around the two names to be even clearer although I agree the commas make it clear those two are the parent and certainly not God (and I certainly remember that legal case where milions hinged on a comma).
howabout · 03/11/2018 12:00
Agreed. They are obsessed with Oxford commas in the US, and who and whom, and "z"s at every opportunity possible.
Xenia · 03/11/2018 15:38
Ah, I do have a think about who and whom actually. I suppose we all have our own red lines.
Wednesdaypig · 03/11/2018 15:40
They've gone! Thanks all, interesting comments.
Wednesdaypig · 03/11/2018 15:40
Yes, I always do the whom/him check before committing
LRDtheFeministDragon · 03/11/2018 20:44
Agree with shine. English Lit academic and I wouldn't care either way. I doubt I'd even notice.
SpaceCannotBeLeftBlank · 03/11/2018 20:57
My job is exclusively to do with words and writing.
The ‘rules’ around Oxford commas are arbitrary and usually imposed by schools. In fact they are a stylistic device and it really just boils down to preference. Using them or not makes no difference to the meaning and in fact, it can help to clarify meaning where there is ambiguity.
The whole point of writing (and any communication) is to make yourself understood. I don’t give Oxford commas a second thought if I come across them in my line of work. But I do object to overly formal, verbose and obfuscatory ‘management’ or ‘academic’ speak. The acid test is: will someone else reading your writing be able to understand what you’re on about? An Oxford comma doesn’t affect that.
ShineOnHarvestMoon · 03/11/2018 21:08
Everything Space says, particularly The whole point of writing (and any communication) is to make yourself understood. I don’t give Oxford commas a second thought if I come across them in my line of work. But I do object to overly formal, verbose and obfuscatory ‘management’ or ‘academic’ speak
(I teach literature & writing in HE).
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