The Reading / Listening - Oxford Comma - Level 2

The United Kingdom left the European Union on January the 31st. The British people voted to leave three-and-a-half years ago. The U.K. made a special coin for the occasion. It is at the centre of an argument about punctuation. The new 50-pence coin has the words: "Peace, prosperity and friendship with all nations" on one side. A British writer, Sir Philip Pullman, is unhappy. He believes the punctuation is incorrect. He said there should be a comma after the word "prosperity". Such a comma is called an Oxford comma. He said everyone who can read should ignore the coin.



The Oxford comma's name is from Oxford University. In the USA, it is called the serial comma. It is used before the final "and" or "or" in a list of three or more items. Many people say an Oxford comma is unnecessary on the 50-pence coin because the meaning is very clear. A word expert said the Oxford comma is useful if it is easier to understand the writer's meaning. A U.K. citizen said the comma wasn't important. She tweeted: "It doesn't matter if there is a comma or not on the 50p coin. The most important thing is that there is peace, and prosperity, and friendship with all nations."

Try the same news story at these levels:

    Oxford Comma - Level 0 Oxford Comma - Level 1   or  Oxford Comma - Level 3

Sources
  • https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/10835240/what-oxford-comma-examples-how-use/
  • https://abcnews.go.com/International/commemorative-brexit-coin-sparks-oxford-comma-debate/story
  • https://www.scotsman.com/lifestyle/oxford-comma-does-the-brexit-50p-coin-have-a-grammatical-error-1-5081991


Make sure you try all of the online activities for this reading and listening - There are dictations, multiple choice, drag and drop activities, crosswords, hangman, flash cards, matching activities and a whole lot more. Please enjoy :-)



Phrase Matching

Paragraph 1

  1. The British people voted
  2. The U.K. made a special coin
  3. at the centre of an argument
  4. friendship with
  5. He believes the punctuation
  6. He said there should
  7. Such a comma is called
  8. ignore the
  1. be a comma
  2. about punctuation
  3. coin
  4. for the occasion
  5. an Oxford comma
  6. to leave
  7. is incorrect
  8. all nations

Paragraph 2

  1. It is used before the final
  2. in a list of three
  3. the meaning is very
  4. A word expert said the Oxford
  5. it is easier to understand the
  6. the comma wasn't
  7. It doesn't matter if there is
  8. The most important
  1. important
  2. a comma or not
  3. "and"
  4. thing
  5. or more items
  6. clear
  7. writer's meaning
  8. comma is useful

Listening — Listen and fill in the gaps

The United Kingdom left the European Union on January the 31st. The British people (1) ___________________ three-and-a-half years ago. The U.K. made a special coin (2) ___________________. It is at the centre of an argument about punctuation. The new 50-pence coin has the words: "Peace, prosperity (3) ___________________ all nations" on one side. A British writer, Sir Philip Pullman, is unhappy. He believes the (4) ___________________. He said there should be a comma after (5) ___________________. Such a comma is called an Oxford comma. He said everyone who can (6) ___________________ the coin.

The Oxford comma's name is from Oxford University. In the USA, it is called (7) ___________________. It is used before the final "and" or "or" in a list of three (8) ___________________. Many people say an Oxford comma is unnecessary on the 50-pence coin because the meaning (9) ___________________. A word expert said the Oxford comma is useful if it is easier to understand the writer's meaning. A U.K. (10) ___________________ comma wasn't important. She tweeted: "(11) ___________________ if there is a comma or not on the 50p coin. The (12) ___________________ is that there is peace, and prosperity, and friendship with all nations."

Put a slash (/) where the spaces are

TheUnitedKingdomlefttheEuropeanUniononJanuarythe31st.TheBrit
ishpeoplevotedtoleavethree-and-a-halfyearsago.TheU.K.madeasp
ecialcoinfortheoccasion.Itisatthecentreofanargumentaboutpunctua
tion.Thenew50-pencecoinhasthewords:"Peace,prosperityandfrien
dshipwithallnations"ononeside.ABritishwriter,SirPhilipPullman,isun
happy.Hebelievesthepunctuationisincorrect.Hesaidthereshouldbea
commaaftertheword"prosperity".SuchacommaiscalledanOxfordco
mma.Hesaideveryonewhocanreadshouldignorethecoin.TheOxfordc
omma'snameisfromOxfordUniversity.IntheUSA,itiscalledtheserialc
omma.Itisusedbeforethefinal"and"or"or"inalistofthreeormoreitems
.ManypeoplesayanOxfordcommaisunnecessaryonthe50-pencecoi
nbecausethemeaningisveryclear.AwordexpertsaidtheOxfordcomm
aisusefulifitiseasiertounderstandthewriter'smeaning.AU.K.citizensa
idthecommawasn'timportant.Shetweeted:"Itdoesn'tmatteriftherei
sacommaornotonthe50pcoin.Themostimportantthingisthatthereisp
eace,andprosperity,andfriendshipwithallnations."

Student survey

Write five GOOD questions about this topic in the table. Do this in pairs. Each student must write the questions on his / her own paper. When you have finished, interview other students. Write down their answers.

(Please look at page 12 of the PDF to see a photocopiable example of this activity.)

Discussion — Write your own questions

STUDENT A’s QUESTIONS (Do not show these to student B)

(a) ________________

(b) ________________

(c) ________________

(d) ________________

(e) ________________

(f) ________________

(g) ________________

(h) ________________

STUDENT B’s QUESTIONS (Do not show these to student A)

(i) ________________

(j) ________________

(k) ________________

(l) ________________

(m) ________________

(n) ________________

(o) ________________

(p) ________________





Free writing

Write about this topic for 10 minutes. Comment on your partner’s paper.

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Answers

(Please check your answers against the article above.

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