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Today we’re going to continue talking about how we use commas when writing in English. In particular, we’ll go over how to use commas when we’re addressing someone directly in a sentence. To get the ball rolling, let’s think about the following sentence:

  • Maria, let me know when Sarah arrives.”

In this sentence, I’m “talking” directly to Maria and asking her to let me know when Sarah arrives. Because I’m addressing Maria directly, I’ve placed a comma between “Maria” and the main part of the sentence. If I didn’t include the comma, the sentence would look like this:

  • Maria let me know when Sarah arrives.”

Without a comma to indicate that I’m talking directly to Maria, the reader could misinterpret the sentence: instead of reading the sentence as one directed at Maria, the reader might interpret it as a sentence describing what Maria used to do (at least until the reader gets to the last word in the sentence [i.e., “arrives”] and realizes that this interpretation probably isn’t correct). For this reason, it’s important to include the comma when addressing someone directly.

In the example above, the name of the person being addressed (i.e., “Maria”) appears at the beginning of the sentence. We could, however, rewrite the sentence so that Maria’s name appears at the end of the sentence:

  • “Let me know when Sarah arrives, Maria.”

Just like we did above, we would separate “Maria” from the main part of the sentence with a comma.

Have any lingering questions about how to use commas when addressing someone directly? Leave us a note in our comments section below and we’ll do our best to incorporate your questions into one of our upcoming posts.

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How to use commas: What to do when addressing people directly

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