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September 25, 2019

A grammar enthusiast with strong convictions about the necessity of the Oxford comma has gone viral on Tik Tok and reignited a long and contentious debate about whether or not you really need to use the Oxford comma.

In the clip, which has been viewed over 3 million times, 16-year-old Kelsie Satterfield of Missouri makes a case for using the Oxford comma by dissecting the structure of the sentence, “I thanked my parents, Batman, and Superman” on a whiteboard.

Satterfield noted that the Oxford comma helped define that the thanks was for three separate people and not just your parents named Superman and Batman, noting that “your job as the author is to help your readers know that by using the Oxford comma.”

You’re thanking three groups of people. Your parents, Batman, and Superman. Three, right? Right.

“However, if I decided that I want to go and erase that Oxford, then do you know what you’d be saying? You would be saying that Superman and Batman are your parents.

“Are Superman and Batman your parents? No? Then your job as the author is to help your readers know that by using the Oxford comma.

“The Oxford comma is important and you can’t tell me that it’s not,” she said at the close of the video. “So all of you journalism writers or people that just don’t believe in the Oxford comma can just leave because the Oxford comma is important. That’s all I have to say.”

While Satterfield was firmly convinced of the necessity of the Oxford comma and found others who supported her passion on the topic, many on the Internet were not as enthused about Oxford Commas or shared the same attitude as Vampire Weekend on the matter: that no one really cares that much about a grammar controversy.

Write to Cady Lang at cady.lang@timemagazine.com.

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