The Listing Comma, Please Help
As some of you already know, I’m seeking out the official British English grammar guidelines on the internet and posting them as lessons. The emphasis is on British English grammar here as taught in the United Kingdom. There are differences, although often slight, between British English grammar and American English, and the same applies to Australian, Canadian and New Zealand English.
The thing is, there is conflicting advice about the listing comma. I was born in England and have lived all my life here. During my education I learned when listing items to use a comma after every item including the one before the ‘and … ‘.
Example: She went to the shops and bought bread, potatoes, carrots, and milk.
Cambridge Dictionaries Online states in their British English advice:
“We do not normally use a comma before and at the end of a list of single words:
They travelled through Bulgaria, Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Poland.
American English does use a comma in lists before and:
We took bread, cheese, and fruit with us.”
This seems to contradict what I and my contemporaries learned in English schools. I would really appreciate your comments on this.