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A tweet in trending says

The highlights of his waning administration include encounters with Rudy Giuliani, a healthcare disaster and a dildo collector.

A response says

People keep telling me this sentence is a perfect example of the need for the Oxford comma, but I am here to tell you that @BCDreyer knew EXACTLY what he was doing when he wrote this sentence, and I am fully here for it, one hundred percent.

What do missing an Oxford comma and having it mean respectively in the first tweet? (I am having trouble to understand why it is being discussed.)

  • Have you researched what an Oxford comma is, and when it might be used? – Michael Harvey Nov 14 at 22:20
  • It's just two different and conflicting "rules" for writing in English. Nothing at all remarkable about this -- the "rules" for English only exist in the minds of people with CDO (which is "OCD" but with the letters in the order they should be in). – Hot Licks Nov 17 at 20:13
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"The highlights of his waning administration include encounters with Rudy Giuliani, a healthcare disaster and a dildo collector."

This sentence is meant to list certain "highlights" of Trump's waning administration. It give three examples: 1) an encounter with Rudy Giuliani 2) a healthcare disaster and 3) a dildo collector.

But when we name someone in an article, it's not unusual that we might give our readers a brief explanation of who that person is. Example: "I had the great privilege of interviewing Dr. Jane Goodall, a leading primatologist and climate activist." - This is not a sentence about 3 different individuals. After the comma is an explanation, not a list.

Similarly, after Rudy Giuliani is named, what follows could be read as an explanation of who he is. Without the Oxford comma, which would go just before "...and a dildo collector", the sentence could be read as indicating that Rudy Giuliani is the main highlight of Trump's waning administration, with a helpful explanation that Rudy Giuliani is both a healthcare disaster and a dildo collector.

The inclusion of the Oxford comma removes this ambiguity.

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    "But when we name someone in an article, it's not unusual that we might give our readers a brief explanation of who that person is. " The term for this is "appositive". – Acccumulation Nov 19 at 18:14

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