Tag Archive - comma usage

Let’s Not Eat Grandma

Commas seem to be the bane of many writers, and I’ve written numerous posts on their usage. I’ve even seen workshops devoted entirely to comma use. Yes, those tiny curly bits of punctuation can be intimidating!

You’ve probably heard that you need to use commas with speaker tags (“Go away,” Sally said). But you also need to use commas with direct address. There is a huge difference between the following sentences:

  • Let’s eat Grandma.
  • Let’s eat, Grandma.

So, that’s not too hard to get, right? Offset not just people’s names but anything (animal or object) in direct address:

  • Listen, you dumb computer—I’ve had it with you.
  • I will give you a biscuit, Fido, if you sit.
  • Hey, everyone, hurry up!
  • Please, sir, I’d like some more.

And just a reminder of something I’ve gone over before: be sure to capitalize professions in direct address:

  • Is that test correct, Doctor?
  • Take me home, Captain.
  • Yes, Boss.
  • No, Mother, I don’t want soup.
  • Go take out the trash, Son.

I hope, dear writer, you now understand the need to insert those commas in the right places. I, for one, don’t want to eat Grandma.