Tag Archives: Oxford comma

Needed: “Require” Inquiry

On editing discussion boards, the personal peeves of various editors inevitably bubble to the surface. A recurring peeve is the use of require for need. This is one particular bugaboo that I’ve never sweated (note to pedants: sweat would be fine here, too. That’s right: both sweat and sweated are acceptable as past tense and past participle of sweat), but it sure raises the ire of some. This week, the issue was raised again on LinkedIn, so I had to haul out the Canadian Oxford Dictionary. (Who am I kidding — the COD is always at hand.)

Here are the definitions:

  • need: require
  • require: need

That’s right, folks. I declare this debate officially over.

Okay, maybe there’s a bit more to discuss. Sure, require is the better choice in some instances:

To clear security, a passport is required (in other words, nothing but a passport will do the trick).

And need is the better choice in others:

This thesis needs a good editor (not a requirement, but a damn good suggestion).

But if the Canadian Oxford isn’t dying on this hill, neither am I.

Now, can we all get back to more important things — like duking it out over the Oxford comma!

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The Oxford Comma

Ah, the Oxford comma: some love it, some hate it. I use it, but I have no problem dropping it when required by a style guide. However, there are some instances when the Oxford comma is indeed needed for clarity:

Who can argue with this?

Who can argue with this?

(From blogher.com: Gifts for Grammar Geeks.)

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Filed under comma use, Oxford comma, punctuation