The purpose of the comma is to aide readers in understanding what they are reading, and to help them understand it quickly. Today, I want to talk about the importance of commas in a series and the distinct role that they play in the meaning of a sentence. Many people now believe it to be correct grammar to leave out the comma just before the “and” in a series (ex: The trees, flowers and grass are lovely this time of year). While this may not seem to be a huge deal, a missing comma can certainly alter the meaning of a sentence (it also isn't as aesthetically-pleasing to read, but maybe that's just my OCD!).
Take the two sentences below, which have two totally different meanings due completely to the inclusion or exclusion of the comma before “and.” In the first sentence, “Jen and I” are addressing Jake directly and wishing him a happy birthday. In the second sentence “Jake, Jen, and I” are addressing an unnamed fourth person and wishing him/her a happy birthday.
“Jake, Jen and I want to wish you a happy birthday.”
“Jake, Jen, and I want to wish you happy birthday.”
Introduction to Grammar Guidelines
With texting, Facebook, and Twitter fast becoming main modes of communication, the new shorthand lingo that is developing will no doubt bring about a higher frequency of grammatical, spelling, and punctuation errors. The rules that define proper English seem to fade into the distance as more people forget them and replace that knowledge with acronyms such as OMG and LOL. The hope for this site is to reinforce proper English grammar and continue to encourage eloquent writing and speech.