LESSON WRITING Direct Address Commas

Discussion in 'REFINING WRITING' started by DinoFeather, May 13, 2018.

  1. Another Grammar Guide! Hooray!

    So. Let’s talk about commas.

    More specifically, let’s talk about some commas that are easy to use. (Those exist!)

    This is something that I notice fairly often, and it can change the intended meaning of a sentence.

    I’m sure most of you have seen something to the effect of...

    “Let’s eat Grandma!”

    Juxtaposed with...

    “Let’s eat, Grandma!”

    This is usually followed by something like, “commas save lives!”


    The first sentence is implying that the speaker is encouraging others to eat their grandmother. In the second sentence, the one that includes a comma, the speaker is addressing Grandma.

    We know that Grandma is being spoken to because of the comma. This particular use of a comma is called a direct address comma, and is used to indicate-- you got it-- a direct address.

    What that means is when a speaker is talking to someone directly, a comma is used to indicate that they are addressing that particular person.

    Here’s an example:

    “Let’s go to Molly’s Sylvia.”

    This reads like the speaker is suggesting a visit to the Sylvia who belongs to Molly.

    “Let’s go to Molly’s, Sylvia.”

    This reads like the speaker is talking to someone named Sylvia, suggesting they go to Molly’s.

    A direct address comma may not seem like a big deal-- but it really can change the meaning of a sentence, which can be very confusing for a reader.

    How do you know when to use a direct address comma? There’s a pretty easy rule to follow. Always use a direct address comma when a speaker is addressing someone else in a sentence. It doesn’t matter where the direct address happens, either. It can be a name, or whatever you’re referring to someone as.

    Here are a few more examples:

    “Good news, everyone!”

    “You don’t know my life, Susan.”

    “Kevin, please stop omitting commas.”

    “Dear sir, you can route this madness.”

    “Hey, asshole!”

    “Only you, my friend, can stop this-- one comma at a time.”

    The last sentence uses two commas. If a direct address comes in the middle of a sentence, then you place a comma both before and after the address.

    Commas have shifty rules, but the direct address comma is the easiest to utilize properly. It’s a small addition you can implement with confidence! (And eliminate future confusion and frustration from readers. Bonus!)

    Thanks for reading!

    Questions? Comments? (Have I made an error?) Let me know below! c:

    Happy writing!
    #1 DinoFeather, May 13, 2018
    Last edited: May 14, 2018
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  2. Maybe I'm a bad reader, but that's not the implication I took from it. Even with your explanation I don't prefer that sentence to have a comma. It throws off the pacing.
  3. Y
    You, my dear friend, in your, shall we say, somewhat well-formatted attempt, capture the essence of, no less than one, at that, key aspects of writing.

    Resource on double commas soon??
  4. Thank you! It is so lovely to see someone who actually knows how grammar works ^^