Tag Archives: comma

Monday morning writing joke: “Pause, to consider”

“Let’s eat Grandma!”

“Let’s eat, Grandma!”

Commas save lives.


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Filed under 2017, Monday morning writing joke

Oxford Comma Decides Court Case in Maine Labor Dispute

Never underestimate the power of good grammar.

Source: Oxford Comma Decides Court Case in Maine Labor Dispute

By Kyle Scott Clauss

Vampire Weekend and the AP Stylebook be damned! The Oxford comma—or rather, the lack of one—helped decide a Maine court case over overtime pay for dairy workers earlier this week.

Also known as the serial comma, the Oxford comma is used before a conjunction like “and” or “or” in a series of three or more items. (For example: “I’m going to buy some eggs, milk, and bread.”) Critics feel it’s clunky and superfluous, while diehard supporters believe it’s absolutely essential for clarity. (For what it’s worth, Boston magazine’s official style uses the Oxford comma.)

Delivery drivers for Oakhurst Dairy won their suit against the Portland milk and cream company, after a U.S. court of appeals found that the wording of Maine’s overtime rules were written ambiguously. Per state law, the following activities are not eligible for overtime pay:

The canning, processing, preserving,
freezing, drying, marketing, storing,
packing for shipment or distribution of:
(1) Agricultural produce;
(2) Meat and fish products; and
(3) Perishable foods.

Oakhurst argued that “distribution of” was separate from “packing for shipment,” which would allow the company to claim exemption from paying its delivery drivers over time. In trying to prove lawmakers’ intent, Oakhurst even pointed to Maine’s legislative style guide, which advises against using the Oxford comma.

“For want of a comma, we have this case,” U.S. appeals judge David J. Barron wrote.

The appeals court ruled in favor of the five delivery drivers Monday, citing the “remedial purpose” of the state’s overtime laws as reason to interpret them liberally. So rejoice, grammar nerds, and know that the law is on your side.



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Filed under 2017, syntax


The Comma Gang tried to convince the Run-on townspeople that what they proposed was comma sense.

The Comma Gang tried to convince the Run-on townspeople that what they proposed was comma sense.

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Filed under 2016, cartoon by author, CarToonsday


Commas lady_96dpi_5x5

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June 21, 2016 · 10:29 pm

Writing tip Wednesday: “Missing comma kills parking ticket”

Ohio appeals court ruling is a victory for punctuation, sanity


Source: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-nation/wp/2015/07/01/ohio-appeals-court-ruling-is-a-victory-for-punctuation-sanity/?tid=sm_fb

Look, I know you’re all busy, but let’s just take a minute today and celebrate Judge Robert A. Hendrickson and the 12th District Court of Appeals in Ohio.

These defenders of punctuation.

These champions of copy editors everywhere.

That one court that totally called out a village ordinance for its comma-related failings.

(I know!!!)

(Pretty great, right?)

Here’s what happened, according to court documents. Back in February 2014, Andrea Cammelleri was cited for a violation when she left her pickup truck parked on a street in West Jefferson, Ohio.

That was because an ordinance in the village stated it was illegal to park “any motor vehicle camper, trailer, farm implement and/or non-motorized vehicle” on a street for more than 24 hours.

At a bench trial, Cammelleri argued that “the ordinance did not apply because the language prohibits a motor vehicle camper from being parked on the street for an extended period of time.”

That’s: Motor vehicle camper.

Not: Motor vehicle, camper.

“The trial court held that when reading the ordinance in context, it unambiguously applied to motor vehicles and ‘anybody reading [the ordinance] would understand that it is just missing a comma,’” court documents state.

Cammelleri was initially convicted, according to the Columbus Dispatch, but filed an appeal.

The Dispatch reports:

She pointed out that the ordinance prohibited “any motor vehicle camper, trailer, farm implement and/or non-motorized vehicle” from daylong parking and argued that her truck is not a “motor vehicle camper.”

The village argued that the lack of a comma separating motor vehicle from camper was a typo and did not invalidate her violation. But the court sided with Cammelleri. Grammar counts, the judges said.

“By utilizing rules of grammar and employing the common meaning of terms, ‘motor vehicle camper’ has a clear definition that does not produce an absurd result,” Hendrickson wrote in his ruling. “If the village desires a different reading, it should amend the ordinance and insert a comma between the phrase ‘motor vehicle’ and the word ‘camper.’”

Additional details: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-nation/wp/2015/07/01/ohio-appeals-court-ruling-is-a-victory-for-punctuation-sanity/?tid=sm_fb

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Filed under 2015, writing tip, Writing Tip Wednesday

Photo finish Friday: “Missing”

Lost souls? Lost comma? Lost apostrophe? Oh, heavens.

Lost souls? Lost comma? Lost apostrophe? Oh, heavens.

If you have read Eats, Shoots and Leaves by Lynne Truss, you know the power of the comma, the apostrophe, and other well-placed parts of punctuation. Far be it for me to comment on a man’s beliefs (Okay, maybe not that far be it.), but in this case, I think it is more a matter of the missing-in-action comma and apostrophe. As it is, this church signage can lead one to believe this church is devoted to deprogramming the devout, to redirecting the religiously inclined, to subduing the souls of those who believe.

The name of the church, which is Christian, would make more sense if the sign read, “Overcoming, Believers’ Church.” As it is, the name, particularly in large white letters on a large slate-gray building (the photo only shows a part of the church exterior) looks a bit like something out of the X-Files. The aliens have stolen our apostrophes!

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Filed under Photo by author, Photo Finish Friday