Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Where's My Comma Dude?

OK, I admit I've never actually seen the "classic" movie Where's My Car, Dude? But I distinctly remember watching the ads for the movie, and I get the feeling they were pretty much the highlights of that cinematic piece.

But it illustrates Chicago Manual Of Style 6.38:
A comma is used to set off names or words used in direct address and informal correspondence (in formal correspondence, a colon usually follows the name).

Ms. Jones, please come in.
James, your order is ready.
I am not here, my friends, to discuss personalities.
Hello, Ms. Philips.
Dear Judy, . . .
 That second to last example is the one I want to focus on.  It's the comma dude in action!  But sometimes the comma dude is missing, like in the examples below.
Read them out loud and notice the different meaning between the sentence with and the sentence without the comma.
I think I can squeeze through Chief.
I think I can squeeze through, Chief.
I am not so sure I want to squeeze through Chief.
I don't mind Michael.
I don't mind, Michael.
I never mind Michael. Or anyone, really.
You know Charlie.
You know, Charlie.
Maybe I know Charlie and maybe I don't.  You'll never find out.
Go on George.
Go on, George.
You want me to what on who???
Fine Lieutenant.
Fine, Lieutenant.
A fine lieutenant?  Sounds like a great start to a romance novel character.
How did you get this Dad?
How did you get this, Dad?
I got this Dad because...wait, didn't your parents explain the birds and the bees to you?
You shouldn't smoke so much Joe.
You shouldn't smoke so much, Joe.
I always drink my joe, not smoke it.  Maybe I've been doing it wrong. 

So please, dear author, remember where the heck you left the comma dude!

No comments:

Post a Comment