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Friday, August 27, 2010

Criminal Sentence 438: Where Have All the Commas Gone?

From a first-grade reader:

"First Turtle goes to the flower shop."


"Surprise Turtle!"

One of these definitely needs a comma; one is optional but reduces confusion.

The definitely needed comma is this:

"Surprise, Turtle!"

You need a comma before a word of address, as in "Hi, Bonnie" or "Thanks, Jake."

In the other sentence, an optional comma would avoid confusion:

"First, Turtle goes to the flower shop."

Without the comma, someone could read the subject to be "First Turtle," as opposed to "Second Turtle."

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