There’s been a great deal of debate in our office, in inner circles of grammar enthusiasts, at dinner tables, in newsrooms and just about everywhere else as to whether or not to put a comma before the last item in a series. The cries of “well I was taught this way in elementary school” and “they’re teaching it this way in my child’s class” have been heard around the world, and yet all anybody really wants is a definitive answer. Recently, it seems, we have received just that. Sort of.

First came the tweet AP Stylebook’s official Twitter account as seen below.

Next, came the news that Oxford no longer required a comma before the last item in a series in press releases and internal communication, which caused quite an uproar. Turns out, this news is actually a few years old. There is also the case of ambiguity, and a Twitter user tweeted an especially valid point: “For teaching me that the Oxford comma resolves ambiguity, I’d like to thank my parents, Sinead O’Connor and the Pope.” Meaning that he’s either thanking all three, or Sinead O’Connor and the Pope are actually his parents. Oxford’s response: “when a comma would assist in the meaning of the sentence or helps to resolve ambiguity, it can be used." Well there you have it. To recap: You DO use the comma if you’re listing a series of items EXCEPT in the case of press releases and internal communications. Funny how one little comma can cause such a commotion.