Commas with Interrupters Part One: Direct Address

The Rule:

Since a direct address is a type of sentence interrupter, place a comma on both sides of the direct address when it comes in the middle, after the direct address when it comes in the beginning, and before the direct address when it comes at the end of the sentence.

 

Terms to Know:

Interrupter: A word, group, or phrase that interrupts the flow of the sentence

Direct Address: Directly addressing a person or a group of people.


 

Examples:

Hi, Carl,

  • If you start of an email addressing someone, you need a comma between the salutation (hi, hello, greetings) and the person’s name. Dear is the exception. You would write “Dear Carl,” (you still include the comma after the name, but not before) because technically “dear” is an adjective modifying Carl, so it is part of the direct address.

Can I have your attention, people?

  • You are directly speaking to the people in the audience, so you set off people with a comma.

Brendan and Suzanna, your work was excellent this month.

  • When addressing multiple people, the comma goes after the last address. If this were in the middle of the sentence, then a comma would go before Brendan and you would still have the one after Suzanna.

I told you, Juanita, you can’t pet my cat like that.

  • You are speaking to Juanita, so her name should be surrounded by commas.

“Well, Dieter, I don’t believe you,” she said.

  • When a character is addressing someone in dialogue, their name should be surrounded by commas.

I have told Kayla a million times, but she won’t listen.

  • You are not directly speaking to Kayla, so her name should not be surrounded by commas.

Practice:

  1. Livvy and Abby stop chewing on my cable.
  2. It’s not time yet David.
  3. Well Claudia does need to be told often to listen.
  4. Thanks everyone for your helpful responses.
  5. “Amelia are you ready to go?” she asked.
  6. Fernando says he is coming.
  7. If you want to come Brian and Sanako you need to hurry.

 


Answers:

  1. Livvy and Abby, stop chewing on my cable.
  2. It’s not time yet, David.
  3. Well Claudia does need to be told often to listen. (no comma; not directly speaking to Claudia)
  4. Thanks, everyone, for your helpful responses.
  5. “Amelia, are you ready to go?” she asked.
  6. Fernando says he is coming. (no comma; not speaking to Fernando)
  7. If you want to come, Brian and Sanako, you need to hurry

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