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The Vocative Comma

The comma strikes again! In this case, the question is where you place the comma(s?) when you’re addressing a specific person. Hail Caesar?

INCORRECT

  • Greetings everybody!
  • I didn’t eat Jody.
  • My friend you’re the best person for the job.

CORRECT

The vocative comma enables you to direct attention to someone specific. By saying, “Greetings, everybody,” you separate the statement of “greetings” from those addressed. It can appear anywhere in a sentence. (“I didn’t eat, Jody.”) How useful the vocative comma was in that sentence! Without it, I’m left wondering why you’re telling me you didn’t eat our friend, and suddenly I’m afraid.

FUN FACT

The word vocative is of Late Middle English origin by way of Old French, and before that, Latin: vocare, meaning “to call.” The name of this comma makes perfect sense.

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