The Grammarphobia Blog

What’s up, Jack?

Q: Which is correct? “Thanks, Jack!” Or: “Thanks Jack!” Help appreciated.

A: The correct sentence is “Thanks, Jack!” Similarly, it would be correct to say, “Jack, thanks!” or “Hey, Jack, what ‘s happening?”

The reason: you need a comma before (or after or around) a name used in direct address – that is, somebody one is talking to.

If the name is at the beginning of a sentence, you put a comma after it. If it’s at the end, you put the comma in front. And if the name is in the middle of a sentence, commas go in front and back.

If you find this confusing, you’re in good company. For example, the comma is missing in front of the name “Jack” in the Percy Mayfield song (recorded by Ray Charles) “Hit the Road Jack.”

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