Q. When do you need to use a comma when directly addressing someone or something in a sentence?
A. Always! (maybe there is some exception to this rule, but I don’t know what it would be)
with a specific name:
Jack, are you ready?
Are you ready yet, Jack?
Yes, Jack, I’m talking to you.
without a specific name:
My good man, are you ready?
Are you ready, my good man?
Yes, my good man, I’m talking to you.
Class, are you ready?
Are you ready, class?
Yes, class, I’m talking to you.
Stop looking at me, swan. (Bonus points if you can name the movie)
More often than not, I see people forgetting the comma when a specific name isn’t used. Keeping an eye out for this rule while reading bedtime stories to my son has helped reinforce its usage.
Hi, Gerald. (We read a lot of Mo Willems at our house)
You can’t get much simpler than that.
So, writers, don’t forget those direct address commas. Okay?
P.S. If you find any missing commas in sentences from Atomic Aardvark, go easy on me.