Comma rules save your life? Okay, maybe not literally… unless you’re an authoritarian leader whose minions take every word you write that way… So it could happen.
There’s a popular meme that shows just how comma rules may save (or cost) lives.
Let’s eat Grandma.
Let’s eat, Grandma.
As the caption says “Punctuation saves lives.”
In the first, we are about to sit down to a nice dinner of Grandma. In the other, we are about to sit down to a nice dinner with Grandma. A major difference, at least at my house.
This meme is a great illustration of an easy, but important, comma rule: always use a comma when directly addressing someone, regardless of where the direct address is in the sentence. Commas go before and after the name of the person to whom you are speaking.
In addition to the wonderful illustration above about whether Grandma is the main course or an invited guest, here are a few more examples of this comma rule when speaking to someone directly.
Example #1, Comma Rules Names
Anne, please come and sit down.
Example #2, Comma Rules Names
It’s important to remember, Mother, that I am a grown woman now.
Example #3, Comma Rules Names
What’s your favorite book, Bob?
In each case, the name of the person being addressed is set off with a comma (or two, if it’s in the middle of the sentence).
It’s an easy rule to remember and a great way to keep all your addressees safe, sound, and well-fed.
Looking for more comma rules? Check out Commas Before Conjunctions and Complete Thoughts.
Rachel is a full-on, hardcore grammar freak. Her favorite punctuation marks are parentheses, em dashes, and ellipses. She still loves adverbs but is trying to wean herself off of them. And she truly believes that it’s okay to split an infinitive. In addition to her grammar obsession, Rachel writes light contemporary romance – occasionally with a paranormal twist – and is published in short fiction. Rachel also works as a freelance proofreader and copy editor. Learn more at www.rachelmichaels.com.