The Reading / Listening - Oxford Comma - Level 3

The United Kingdom officially left the European Union on January the 31st, three-and-a-half years after the British people voted to leave. The U.K. government issued a special coin to mark the occasion. However, the coin is at the centre of an argument about punctuation. The new 50-pence coin became available yesterday. It has the words: "Peace, prosperity and friendship with all nations" on its reverse side. A famous British writer, Sir Philip Pullman, is unhappy with the punctuation. He believes the phrase is incorrectly punctuated. Mr Pullman said there should be a comma after the word "prosperity". Such a comma is called an Oxford comma. He said the coin, "should be boycotted by all literate people".



The Oxford comma gets its name from the Oxford University Press, which makes common use of the punctuation mark. In the USA, it is called the serial comma. It is used before the final "and" or "or" in a written list of three or more items. Many people say there is no need for an Oxford comma in the phrase on the 50-pence coin because the meaning is very clear. Word expert Susie Dent said the Oxford comma is useful if it makes it easier to understand the writer's meaning. A U.K. citizen said the comma issue 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."

 

This is an example of how the Oxford (or serial) comma can change the meaning of a sentence.

In sentence one below, the writer talked to four people - her two sisters, plus a lady called Maya, and another lady called Hana.

In sentence two, the writer talked to two people - her two sisters, whose names are Maya and Hana.

1.  She talked to her two sisters, Maya, and Hana.
2.  She talked to her two sisters, Maya and Hana.

Try the same news story at these easier levels:

    Oxford Comma - Level 0 Oxford Comma - Level 1   or  Oxford Comma - Level 2

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 :-)



Warm-ups

1. PUNCTUATION: Students walk around the class and talk to other students about punctuation. Change partners often and share your findings.
2. CHAT: In pairs / groups, talk about these topics or words from the article. What will the article say about them? What can you say about these words and your life?
       United Kingdom / European Union / coin / punctuation / Oxford / comma / literate /
       serial / list / phrase / meaning / understand / peace / prosperity / friendship / nations
Have a chat about the topics you liked. Change topics and partners frequently.
3. COMMA: Students A strongly believe commas are very important; Students B strongly believe they are not.  Change partners again and talk about your conversations.
4. NATIONS: How are these things between your country and other nations? How can your country do better with these things? Complete this table with your partner(s). Change partners often and share what you wrote.

 

Now

Doing Better

Peace

 

 

Prosperity

 

 

Friendship

 

 

Understanding

 

 

Trade

 

 

Peace

 

 

MY e-BOOK
ESL resource book with copiable worksheets and handouts - 1,000 Ideas and Activities for Language Teachers / English teachers
See a sample

5. VOTE: Spend one minute writing down all of the different words you associate with the word "vote". Share your words with your partner(s) and talk about them. Together, put the words into different categories.
6. PUNCTUATION MARKS: Rank these with your partner. Put the most important at the top. Change partners often and share your rankings.

  • comma
  • question mark
  • full stop (period)
  • semi colon
  • exclamation mark
  • colon
  • quotation mark
  • parentheses

 

Vocabulary

    Paragraph 1

      1. officially a. A particular time or instance of an event.
      2. voted b. Able to read and write.
      3. mark c. In a formal and public way.
      4. occasion d. Do something special for an important event time of the year.
      5. reverse e. Put an 'x' in a box or raised your hand to choose a new leader or make your choice known.
      6. boycotted f. The other side; the opposite side.
      7. literate g. Refused to join in or cooperate with a policy or event.

    Paragraph 2

      8. serial h. Different connected items or names written or printed on paper one below the other.
      9. list i. Things that are part of collection, list or set.
      10. items j. Someone who belongs to a country and has the passport of that country.
      11. phrase k. Something that is part of many related things that come one after another.
      12. expert l. Being successful with money and wealth; being rich.
      13. citizen m. Someone who knows everything about something.
      14. prosperity n. A small group of words used together to mean something.

 

Before reading / listening

1. TRUE / FALSE: Read the headline. Guess if 1-8 below are true (T) or false (F).

  1. The British people voted to leave the EU two years ago.     T / F
  2. The new coin has an argument in its centre.     T / F
  3. The front of the new coin has a message about peace on its front.     T / F
  4. A writer asked people who can read to boycott the coin.     T / F
  5. The Oxford comma was named because of the Oxford University Press.   T / F
  6. The Oxford comma is used with a written list of two or more items.     T / F
  7. The article said the meaning of the phrase on the coin is unclear.     T / F
  8. A woman tweeted that the comma did not matter.     T / F

2. SYNONYM MATCH: Match the following synonyms from the article.

  1. leave
  2. phrase
  3. prosperity
  4. boycotted
  5. literate
  6. common
  7. final
  8. items
  9. expert
  10. important
  1. widespread
  2. specialist
  3. educated
  4. last
  5. expression
  6. crucial
  7. shunned
  8. depart
  9. wealth
  10. things

3. PHRASE MATCH: (Sometimes more than one choice is possible.)

  1. The United Kingdom officially
  2. issued a special coin to
  3. Peace, prosperity and friendship
  4. He believes the phrase is
  5. the coin should be boycotted
  6. which makes common use
  7. in a written list of three
  8. there is no need for an Oxford comma
  9. it makes it easier to understand
  10. It doesn't matter if
  1. incorrectly punctuated
  2. by all literate people
  3. or more items
  4. the writer's meaning
  5. mark the occasion
  6. in the phrase
  7. left the European Union
  8. there is a comma
  9. with all nations
  10. of the punctuation mark

Gap fill

Put these words into the spaces in the paragraph below.
punctuation
issued
literate
available
officially
incorrectly
reverse
occasion

The United Kingdom (1) ____________ left the European Union on January the 31st, three-and-a-half years after the British people voted to leave. The U.K. government (2) ____________ a special coin to mark the (3) ____________. However, the coin is at the centre of an argument about punctuation. The new 50-pence coin became (4) ____________ yesterday. It has the words: "Peace, prosperity and friendship with all nations" on its (5) ____________ side. A famous British writer, Sir Philip Pullman, is unhappy with the (6) ____________. He believes the phrase is (7) ____________ punctuated. Mr Pullman said there should be a comma after the word "prosperity". Such a comma is called an Oxford comma. He said the coin, "should be boycotted by all (8) ____________ people".

Put these words into the spaces in the paragraph below.
clear
citizen
serial
prosperity
common
expert
matter
items

The Oxford comma gets its name from the Oxford University Press, which makes (9) ____________ use of the punctuation mark. In the USA, it is called the (10) ____________ comma. It is used before the final "and" or "or" in a written list of three or more (11) ____________. Many people say there is no need for an Oxford comma in the phrase on the 50-pence coin because the meaning is very (12) ____________. Word (13) ____________ Susie Dent said the Oxford comma is useful if it makes it easier to understand the writer's meaning. A U.K. (14) ____________ said the comma issue wasn't important. She tweeted: "It doesn't (15) ____________ if there is a comma or not on the 50p coin. The most important thing is that there is peace, and (16) ____________, and friendship with all nations."

Listening — Guess the answers. Listen to check.

1)  three-and-a-half years after the British people ______
     a.  voted to leaf
     b.  voted too leave
     c.  voted tool eave
     d.  voted to leave
2)  The U.K. government issued a special coin to ______
     a.  make the occasion
     b.  mark the occasion
     c.  meek the occasion
     d.  mar the occasion
3)  He believes the phrase is ______
     a.  incorrectly punctuate it
     b.  incorrectly punctuates it
     c.  incorrectly punctuated
     d.  incorrectly punctuation
4)  Pullman said there should be a comma after the ______
     a.  world prosperity
     b.  world prosper city
     c.  word pros parity
     d.  word prosperity
5)  He said the coin should be boycotted by ______
     a.  all illiterate people
     b.  all literate people
     c.  all literation people
     d.  all ill iterate people

6)  the Oxford University Press, which makes common use of ______
     a.  the punctuation make
     b.  the punctuation mark
     c.  the punctuation mar
     d.  the punctuation meek
7)  It is used before the final "and" or "or" in a written list of three ______
     a.  or more items
     b.  armour item
     c.  or more itemise
     d.  amour items
8)  useful if it makes it easier to understand ______
     a.  the writer's mean in
     b.  the writer is meaning
     c.  then writer's meaning
     d.  the writer's meaning
9)  A U.K. citizen said the comma ______ important
     a.  reissue wasn't
     b.  issue wasn't
     c.  tissue wasn't
     d.  wish you wasn't
10)  It doesn't matter if there is a ______
     a.  comma or not
     b.  comma or no
     c.  comma or knot
     d.  comma or nought

Listening — Listen and fill in the gaps

The United Kingdom (1) ___________________ European Union on January the 31st, three-and-a-half years after the British people voted to leave. The U.K. government issued a special coin to (2) ___________________. However, the coin is at the centre of an argument about punctuation. The new 50-pence coin became available yesterday. It has the words: "Peace, prosperity and friendship with all nations" on (3) ___________________. A famous British writer, Sir Philip Pullman, is unhappy with the punctuation. He believes (4) ___________________ incorrectly punctuated. Mr Pullman said there should be (5) ___________________ the word "prosperity". Such a comma is called an Oxford comma. He said the coin, "should be boycotted (6) ___________________ people".

The Oxford comma (7) ___________________ from the Oxford University Press, which makes (8) ___________________ the punctuation mark. In the USA, it is called the serial comma. It is used before the final "and" or "or" in a written (9) ___________________ or more items. Many people say there is no need for an Oxford comma in the phrase on the 50-pence coin because the meaning (10) ___________________. Word expert Susie Dent said the Oxford comma is useful if it (11) ___________________ to understand the writer's meaning. A U.K. citizen said the comma issue wasn't important. She tweeted: "It doesn't matter if there is a comma (12) ___________________ the 50p coin. The most important thing is that there is peace, and prosperity, and friendship with all nations."

Comprehension questions

  1. How long ago did the article say British people voted to leave the EU?
  2. What denomination is the coin to mark the UK leaving the EU?
  3. What word is on the coin besides peace and prosperity?
  4. What is the job of Sir Phillip Pullman?
  5. Who did Sir Phillip Pullman say should boycott the new coin?
  6. Where does the Oxford comma originate?
  7. What is the Oxford comma called in the USA?
  8. Who is Susie Dent?
  9. How important did a U.K. citizen say the Oxford comma was?
  10. What did the U.K. citizen say didn't matter?




Multiple choice quiz

1) How long ago did the article say British people voted to leave the EU?
a) two-and-a-half years ago
b) four years ago
c) three-and-a-half years ago
d) eighteen months ago
2) What denomination is the coin to mark the UK leaving the EU?
a) fifty pence
b) one pound
c) ten pence
d) five pounds
3) What word is on the coin besides peace and prosperity?
a) Europe
b) friendship
c) fraternity
d) happiness
4) What is the job of Sir Phillip Pullman?
a) English teacher
b) lexicographer
c) coin designer
d) writer
5) Who did Sir Phillip Pullman say should boycott the new coin?
a) all British people
b) all Europeans
c) all literate people
d) anyone who cannot read

6) Where does the Oxford comma originate?
a) Oxford Union
b) Oxford University Press
c) Oxford Punctuation Society
d) the Oxford Comma Club
7) What is the Oxford comma called in the USA?
a) the list divider
b) Bob
c) the New York comma
d) the serial comma
8) Who is Susie Dent?
a) a comma specialist
b) a word expert
c) an English teacher
d) a blogger
9) How important did a U.K. citizen say the Oxford comma was?
a) fairly important
b) not important
c) of utmost importance
d) critically important
10) What did the U.K. citizen say didn't matter?
a) if there is a comma or not on the coin
b) the shape and size of the
c) peace, prosperity and friendship
d) if the UK was in the EU

Role play

Role  A – Comma
You think a comma is the most important punctuation mark. Tell the others three reasons why. Tell them what is wrong with their marks. Also, tell the others which is the least important of these (and why): parentheses, question mark or full stop.

Role  B – Parentheses
You think parentheses is the most important punctuation mark. Tell the others three reasons why. Tell them what is wrong with their marks. Also, tell the others which is the least important of these (and why): comma, question mark or full stop.

Role  C – Question Mark
You think a question mark is the most important punctuation mark. Tell the others three reasons why. Tell them what is wrong with their marks. Also, tell the others which is the least important of these (and why): parentheses, comma or full stop.

Role  D – Full Stop (Period)
You think a full stop is the most important punctuation mark. Tell the others three reasons why. Tell them what is wrong with their marks. Also, tell the others which is the least important of these (and why): parentheses, question mark or comma.

After reading / listening

1. WORD SEARCH: Look in your dictionary / computer to find collocates, other meanings, information, synonyms … for the words...

'comma'

  • ________________
  • ________________
  • ________________
  • ________________
  • ________________
  • ________________
  • ________________
  • ________________
  • and 'punctuation'.

  • ________________
  • ________________
  • ________________
  • ________________
  • ________________
  • ________________
  • ________________
  • ________________
  • • Share your findings with your partners.

    • Make questions using the words you found.

    • Ask your partner / group your questions.

    2. ARTICLE QUESTIONS: Look back at the article and write down some questions you would like to ask the class about the text.

    •Share your questions with other classmates / groups. •Ask your partner / group your questions.

    3. GAP FILL: In pairs / groups, compare your answers to this exercise. Check your answers. Talk about the words from the activity. Were they new, interesting, worth learning…?

    4. VOCABULARY: Circle any words you do not understand. In groups, pool unknown words and use dictionaries to find their meanings.

    5. TEST EACH OTHER: Look at the words below. With your partner, try to recall how they were used in the text:

    • left
    • special
    • centre
    • unhappy
    • incorrectly
    • people
    • common
    • USA
    • need
    • easier
    • matter
    • nations




    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 - Oxford Comma

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

    1. What did you think when you read the headline?
    2. What images are in your mind when you hear the word 'comma'?
    3. What do you know about Brexit?
    4. Will the UK be more successful outside of the EU?
    5. What special coins has your government issued?
    6. Will coins soon be a thing of the past?
    7. Do you think the phrase on the coin needs a comma?
    8. Why do people get excited about commas?
    9. What is punctuation like in your language?
    10. What would change if the word 'prosperity' had a comma after it?

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

    1. Did you like reading this article? Why/not?
    2. What do you think of when you hear the word 'punctuation'?
    3. What do you think of your country's coins
    4. What do you think about what you read?
    5. Why do we use commas in English?
    6. What punctuation marks are difficult to use?
    7. What would happen if we didn't use punctuation?
    8. When will there be peace, prosperity and friendship between nations?
    9. What did your teachers teach you about punctuation?
    10. What questions would you like to ask the British writer?

    Discussion — Write your own questions

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

    (a) ________________

    (b) ________________

    (c) ________________

    (d) ________________

    (e) ________________

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

    (f) ________________

    (g) ________________

    (h) ________________

    (i) ________________

    (j) ________________





    Language — Cloze (Gap-fill)

    The United Kingdom (1) ____ left the European Union on January the 31st, three-and-a-half years after the British people (2) ____ to leave. The U.K. government issued a special coin to (3) ____ the occasion. However, the coin is at the centre of an argument about punctuation. The new 50-pence coin became available yesterday. It has the words: "Peace, prosperity and friendship with all nations" on its (4) ____ side. A famous British writer, Sir Philip Pullman, is unhappy with the punctuation. He believes the phrase is incorrectly (5) ____. Mr Pullman said there should be a comma after the word "prosperity". Such a comma is called an Oxford comma. He said the coin, "should be boycotted by (6) ____ literate people".

    The Oxford comma gets its name from the Oxford University Press, which makes common (7) ____ of the punctuation mark. In the USA, it is called the serial comma. It is used before the final "and" or "or" in a written (8) ____ of three or more items. Many people say there is no need for an Oxford comma in the phrase on the 50-pence coin because the meaning is very (9) ____. Word expert Susie Dent said the Oxford comma is useful if it makes it easier to understand the writer's (10) ____. A U.K. citizen said the comma issue wasn't important. She tweeted: "It doesn't matter if there is a comma or (11) ____ on the 50p coin. The most important (12) ____ is that there is peace, and prosperity, and friendship with all nations."

    Which of these words go in the above text?

    1. (a)     officer     (b)     official     (c)     officially     (d)     officials    
    2. (a)     voted     (b)     election     (c)     choose     (d)     decision    
    3. (a)     mark     (b)     bark     (c)     park     (d)     dark    
    4. (a)     reverse     (b)     reserve     (c)     sever     (d)     severe    
    5. (a)     punctuate     (b)     punctuated     (c)     punctuation     (d)     punctuates    
    6. (a)     entire     (b)     every     (c)     whole     (d)     all    
    7. (a)     writing     (b)     spelling     (c)     use     (d)     reading    
    8. (a)     lust     (b)     lost     (c)     last     (d)     list    
    9. (a)     clear     (b)     clarity     (c)     clearly     (d)     clears    
    10. (a)     meaning     (b)     mean     (c)     meanie     (d)     meant    
    11. (a)     no     (b)     not     (c)     now     (d)     never    
    12. (a)     think     (b)     thins     (c)     thing     (d)     then

    Spelling

    Paragraph 1

    1. lifyifcloa left the European Union
    2. eisuds a special coin
    3. at the centre of an agnuremt about punctuation
    4. Peace, proptriyes and friendship
    5. incorrectly catpeuudnt
    6. boycotted by all eilterat people

    Paragraph 2

    1. makes omconm use of the punctuation mark
    2. a written list of three or more mtesi
    3. no need for an Oxford comma in the hsrape
    4. Word xperte Susie Dent
    5. A U.K. zticine
    6. friendship with all nonisat

    Put the text back together

    (...)  understand the writer's meaning. A U.K. citizen said the comma issue wasn't important. She tweeted:
    (...)  available yesterday. It has the words: "Peace, prosperity and friendship with all nations" on its reverse
    (...)  punctuated. Mr Pullman said there should be a comma after the word "prosperity". Such a comma is called
    (...)  thing is that there is peace, and prosperity, and friendship with all nations."
    (...)  occasion. However, the coin is at the centre of an argument about punctuation. The new 50-pence coin became
    (...)  or more items. Many people say there is no need for an Oxford comma in the phrase on the 50-pence coin because the meaning
    (...)  after the British people voted to leave. The U.K. government issued a special coin to mark the
    (...)  an Oxford comma. He said the coin, "should be boycotted by all literate people".
    (...)  The Oxford comma gets its name from the Oxford University Press, which makes common use of the punctuation
    (...)  is very clear. Word expert Susie Dent said the Oxford comma is useful if it makes it easier to
    1  ) The United Kingdom officially left the European Union on January the 31st, three-and-a-half years
    (...)  mark. In the USA, it is called the serial comma. It is used before the final "and" or "or" in a written list of three
    (...)  "It doesn't matter if there is a comma or not on the 50p coin. The most important
    (...)  side. A famous British writer, Sir Philip Pullman, is unhappy with the punctuation. He believes the phrase is incorrectly

    Put the words in the right order

    1. Issued   the   occasion   .   mark   a   coin   special   to
    2. centre   an   argument   At   the   punctuation   .   about   of
    3. incorrectly   phrase   He   the   is   believes   punctuated   .
    4. comma   should   a   word   .   be   There   the   after
    5. should   the   said   boycotted   .   He   be   coin
    6. before   "and"   .   used   It   the   final   is
    7. is   need   Oxford   no   for   an   There   comma   .
    8. if   easier   it   it   makes   understand   .   Useful   to
    9. matter   comma   .   It   doesn't   is   there   if   a
    10. most   peace   .   thing   there   is   important   The   is

    Circle the correct word (20 pairs)

    The United Kingdom officially / official left the European Union on January the 31st, three-and-a-half years after / later the British people voted to leave. The U.K. government issued a specially / special coin to mark the occasion. However, the coin is on / at the centre of an argument about punctuation. The new 50-pence coin became available / availability yesterday. It has the words: "Peace, prosperity and friendship with every / all nations" on its reverse side / back. A famous British writer, Sir Philip Pullman, is unhappy with the punctuation. He believes the phase / phrase is incorrectly punctuated. Mr Pullman said there should be a comma after the word "prosperity". Such / Name a comma is called an Oxford comma. He said the coin, "should have / be boycotted by all literate people".

    The Oxford comma calls / gets its name from the Oxford University Press, which makes common / commonly use of the punctuation mark. In the USA, it is called the cereal / serial comma. It is used before the final "and" or "or" / "and" in a written list of three or more / most items. Many people say there is no need for an Oxford comma in the phrase on the 50-pence coin because the meaning is very clearly / clear. Word expert Susie Dent said the Oxford comma is useless / useful if it makes it easier to understand the writer's meaning. A U.K. citizen said the comma issue / tissue wasn't important. She tweeted: "It doesn't matter if there is a comma or never / not on the 50p coin. The most important thing / think is that there is peace, and prosperity, and friendship with all nations."

    Talk about the connection between each pair of words in italics, and why the correct word is correct.

    Insert the vowels (a, e, i, o, u)

    T h_ U n_t_d K_n g d_m _f f_c__ l l y l_f t t h_ E_r_p__ n U n__ n _n J_n__ r y t h_ 3 1 s t , t h r__ -_n d -_- h_l f y__ r s _f t_r t h_ B r_t_s h p__ p l_ v_t_d t_ l__ v_. T h_ U . K . g_v_r n m_n t _s s__ d _ s p_c__ l c__ n t_ m_r k t h_ _c c_s__ n . H_w_v_r , t h_ c__ n _s _t t h_ c_n t r_ _f _n _r g_m_n t _b__ t p_n c t__ t__ n . T h_ n_w 5 0 - p_n c_ c__ n b_c_m_ _v__ l_b l_ y_s t_r d_y . I t h_s t h_ w_r d s : " P__ c_, p r_s p_r_t y _n d f r__ n d s h_p w_t h _l l n_t__ n s " _n _t s r_v_r s_ s_d_. A f_m__ s B r_t_s h w r_t_r , S_r P h_l_p P_l l m_n , _s _n h_p p y w_t h t h_ p_n c t__ t__ n . H_ b_l__ v_s t h_ p h r_s_ _s _n c_r r_c t l y p_n c t__ t_d . M r P_l l m_n s__ d t h_r_ s h__ l d b_ _ c_m m_ _f t_r t h_ w_r d " p r_s p_r_t y " . S_c h _ c_m m_ _s c_l l_d _n O x f_r d c_m m_. H_ s__ d t h_ c__ n , " s h__ l d b_ b_y c_t t_d b y _l l l_t_r_t_ p__ p l_" .

    T h_ O x f_r d c_m m_ g_t s _t s n_m_ f r_m t h_ O x f_r d U n_v_r s_t y P r_s s , w h_c h m_k_s c_m m_n _s_ _f t h_ p_n c t__ t__ n m_r k . I n t h_ U S A , _t _s c_l l_d t h_ s_r__ l c_m m_. I t _s _s_d b_f_r_ t h_ f_n_l "_n d " _r "_r " _n _ w r_t t_n l_s t _f t h r__ _r m_r_ _t_m s . M_n y p__ p l_ s_y t h_r_ _s n_ n__ d f_r _n O x f_r d c_m m_ _n t h_ p h r_s_ _n t h_ 5 0 - p_n c_ c__ n b_c__ s_ t h_ m__ n_n g _s v_r y c l__ r . W_r d _x p_r t S_s__ D_n t s__ d t h_ O x f_r d c_m m_ _s _s_f_l _f _t m_k_s _t __ s__ r t_ _n d_r s t_n d t h_ w r_t_r ' s m__ n_n g . A U . K . c_t_z_n s__ d t h_ c_m m_ _s s__ w_s n ' t _m p_r t_n t . S h_ t w__ t_d : " I t d__ s n ' t m_t t_r _f t h_r_ _s _ c_m m_ _r n_t _n t h_ 5 0 p c__ n . T h_ m_s t _m p_r t_n t t h_n g _s t h_t t h_r_ _s p__ c_, _n d p r_s p_r_t y , _n d f r__ n d s h_p w_t h _l l n_t__ n s . "

    Punctuate the text and add capitals

    the united kingdom officially left the european union on january the 31st threeandahalf years after the british people voted to leave the uk government issued a special coin to mark the occasion however the coin is at the centre of an argument about punctuation the new 50pence coin became available yesterday it has the words peace prosperity and friendship with all nations on its reverse side a famous british writer sir philip pullman is unhappy with the punctuation he believes the phrase is incorrectly punctuated mr pullman said there should be a comma after the word prosperity such a comma is called an oxford comma he said the coin should be boycotted by all literate people

    the oxford comma gets its name from the oxford university press which makes common use of the punctuation mark in the usa it is called the serial comma it is used before the final and or or in a written list of three or more items many people say there is no need for an oxford comma in the phrase on the 50pence coin because the meaning is very clear word expert susie dent said the oxford comma is useful if it makes it easier to understand the writers meaning a uk citizen said the comma issue wasnt important she tweeted it doesnt 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

    Put a slash (/) where the spaces are

    TheUnitedKingdomofficiallylefttheEuropeanUniononJanuarythe31s
    t,three-and-a-halfyearsaftertheBritishpeoplevotedtoleave.TheU.
    K.governmentissuedaspecialcointomarktheoccasion.However,thec
    oinisatthecentreofanargumentaboutpunctuation.Thenew50-penc
    ecoinbecameavailableyesterday.Ithasthewords:"Peace,prosperitya
    ndfriendshipwithallnations"onitsreverseside.AfamousBritishwriter,
    SirPhilipPullman,isunhappywiththepunctuation.Hebelievesthephra
    seisincorrectlypunctuated.MrPullmansaidthereshouldbeacommaaft
    ertheword"prosperity".SuchacommaiscalledanOxfordcomma.Hesai
    dthecoin,"shouldbeboycottedbyallliteratepeople".TheOxfordcomm
    agetsitsnamefromtheOxfordUniversityPress,whichmakescommonu
    seofthepunctuationmark.IntheUSA,itiscalledtheserialcomma.Itisus
    edbeforethefinal"and"or"or"inawrittenlistofthreeormoreitems.Man
    ypeoplesaythereisnoneedforanOxfordcommainthephraseonthe50-
    pencecoinbecausethemeaningisveryclear.WordexpertSusieDentsai
    dtheOxfordcommaisusefulifitmakesiteasiertounderstandthewriter's
    meaning.AU.K.citizensaidthecommaissuewasn'timportant.Shetwe
    eted:"Itdoesn'tmatterifthereisacommaornotonthe50pcoin.Themos
    timportantthingisthatthereispeace,andprosperity,andfriendshipwit
    hallnations."

    Free writing

    Write about Oxford comma for 10 minutes. Comment on your partner’s paper.

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    Academic writing

    The comma is the most important punctuation mark. Discuss.

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    Homework

    1. VOCABULARY EXTENSION: Choose several of the words from the text. Use a dictionary or Google's search field (or another search engine) to build up more associations / collocations of each word.
    2. INTERNET: Search the Internet and find out more about this news story. Share what you discover with your partner(s) in the next lesson.
    3. PUNCTUATION: Make a poster about punctuation. Show your work to your classmates in the next lesson. Did you all have similar things?
    4. THE COMMA: Write a magazine article about everyone having to use the Oxford comma. Include imaginary interviews with people who are for and against it.
    Read what you wrote to your classmates in the next lesson. Write down any new words and expressions you hear from your partner(s).
    5. WHAT HAPPENED NEXT? Write a newspaper article about the next stage in this news story. Read what you wrote to your classmates in the next lesson. Give each other feedback on your articles.
    6. LETTER: Write a letter to an expert on punctuation. Ask him/her three questions about it. Give him/her three of your ideas on the comma. Read your letter to your partner(s) in your next lesson. Your partner(s) will answer your questions.

    Answers

    (Please look at page 26 of the PDF to see a photocopiable example of this activity.)

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