The comma of direct address, readers

The most common gripe with the comma of direct address seems to be when people start e-mails with something like “Hi Dave” or “Hello Dave” rather than “Hi, Dave” or “Hello, Dave”. (“Dear Dave” is correct, because Dave is, presumably, dear to the author.)

While this seems a bit trivial as there is unlikely to be any misunderstanding, there are times when a properly placed comma can save a life.

Let’s eat Grandma!
Let’s eat, Grandma!

Other times it can save someone from a sticky situation.

Come on Tim!
Come on, Tim!

Commas of direct address are needed when you’re speaking to someone rather than about them, generally if you can take out the name and the sentence still works you’ll want a comma. You use these commas at the start of the sentence (“Tim, come on!”) as well as the middle or end. If you’re speaking about someone (“Let’s eat with Grandma”) you don’t need one.


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