Aww, Comma On!


Most people, when they see a mistake on a billboard or some other printed piece, think, Hey, whaddya know? A typo. Not me. I take it personally. My career is all about making sure things like that are right. It’s not a whaddya know. It raises my blood pressure, and it’s everywhere.

I could go on about apostrophes (please don’t tack one onto your surname and put it on a plaque in front of your house) or the right number of spaces after a period (it’s one, by the way). But I won’t right now. The thing on my mind is one simple use of one punctuation mark: the comma we use in a greeting. Because there is one.

I’ll illustrate by example.

Nuh-no: Hi Jack.

Yes: Hi, Jack.


Nuh-no: You’re late Jack.

Yes: You’re late, Jack.


Nuh-no: Where’d you get the dog Jack?

Yes: Where’d you get the dog, Jack?

Granted, we’ve learned a lot of things since the fifth grade, so something like one of the uses of one little comma probably actually does pale in comparison to the fact that there is no longer such thing as a brontosaurus or whether Pluto is currently a planet. Who can keep up?

So it’s not like I think the world is going to end over proper salutations. I just think a simple reminder here and there may help clean up the way we write. (I do hang onto the hope that we’re not all going to end up using text-speak for business purposes in the next decade. Kids can spell. They do it for hashtagging.)

A fun way to always remember the comma is best summed up in a popular meme, and I will love whoever came up with it forever. I want it to go viral:

Let’s eat Grandma.

Let’s eat, Grandma.

Commas save lives.

They certainly do. I can feel my blood pressure regulating already.