Posted by: Jack Henry | January 31, 2019

Editor’s Corner: Leftover Comma Rules

Good morning, and welcome to the final edition of the award-winning comma series (yes, a couple appreciative emails does constitute an award, in my estimation).

Today, I’m going to share four simple comma rules that will help you polish your punctuation. These are the rules I’ll discuss:

  • Commas with salutations
  • Commas to set off phrases that express contrast
  • Commas with quotations
  • Commas for dates, addresses, place names, and long numbers

OK. You have the rules, now let’s look at some examples.

Commas with Salutations

Place a comma between your greeting and the recipient’s name (and add a period at the end):

  • Hello, Dolly.
  • Greetings, space aliens.

This rule does not apply when you use the word “Dear” in your salutation. For more rules on punctuation in salutations, read this previous Editor’s Corner article.

Commas to Set Off Phrases that Express Contrast

This easy rule creates a pause that is helpful for readers. Place a comma between contrasting elements:

  • When choosing a mate, you might want to look for substance, not style.
  • The song needed fewer vocals, more cowbell.
  • I was hoping you’d shower me with adoration because you wanted to, not because I asked youto.

Commas with Quotations

This rule, which you’re probably already familiar with, is equally short and sweet. Use commas to separate a direct quotation from the clause that contains the subject and verb:

  • After throwing her cup of coffee at Bart, Jean yelled, “You made me do that!”
  • Next time he eats off your plate, say, “I’ve felt feverish all day.” [dbb – The subject (you) is implied in this example.]

Commas for Dates, Addresses, Place Names, and Long Numbers

You’re probably also familiar with this rule, but reminders are a good thing, right? The examples are in the same order as the heading for this section (dates, addresses, places, and finally, long numbers):

  • On January 2, 2020, we will once again be celebrating Run It up the Flagpole and See Who Salutes Day. Mark your calendars.
  • She was hesitant to tell us that she lives at 212 Appaloosa Road, Embarrass, MN. 55732.
    [dbb – Do not add a comma between the state and ZIP Code.]
  • She was equally hesitant to mention that the population of Embarrass, Minnesota, is 1,226.
    [dbb – Add a comma after the state if it’s placed in the middle of the sentence.]
  • The original Mary Poppins movie grossed $31,000,000 domestically, which when adjusted for inflation is about $268,300,000 today.

This email hereby ends my series on comma rules. If you ever want to review them, you can visit our blog and type comma in the Search field. Now, go punctuate with precision.

Donna Bradley Burcher | Senior Technical Editor | Symitar®

8985 Balboa Ave. | San Diego, CA 92123 | Ph. 619.278.0432 | Extension: 765432

Symitar Documentation Services

About Editor’s Corner

Editor’s Corner keeps your communication skills sharp by providing information on grammar, punctuation, JHA style, and all things English. As editors, we spend our days reading, researching, and revising other people’s writing. We love to spend a few extra minutes to share what we learn with you and keep it fun while we’re doing it.

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