Will someone please tell me where commas should go in the following sentence:

Hi, my name is Joe and I work in a button factory.

  • 3
    Maybe I'm less liberal with commas than others, but I think you have all the commas you need in that sentence. – Andy F Jul 21 '11 at 9:44

How about

Hi, my name is Joe, and I work in a button factory!

You're missing the all-important exclamation point at the end, of course.

"my name is Joe" can be completely removed from the sentence and it still makes sense. It's either a subordinating or independent clause, depending on how much you've been drinking, therefore you can surround the clause with commas to show its relative unimportance.

  • 4
    Can you really remove that portion of the sentence? "Hi and I work in a button factory" isn't right, unless you're referring to someone else whose name is Hi. I don't think my name is Joe is a clause in this sentence. – Andy F Jul 21 '11 at 9:41
  • @Andy: The ", and" is a compound conjunction, so you would be removing all of that. "Hi I work in a button factory" is the independent phrase of the sentence. My name is Joe is certainly a separate clause, although it definitely is more courteous and socially acceptable to include it in an introduction. – Jordan Jul 21 '11 at 17:16
  • @Jordan: maybe I was being a tad pedantic. – Andy F Jul 21 '11 at 19:44

There are several possible options, which will give slightly different meaning and emphasis. (Punctuation often has this effect, just like stress and intonation do in speech.) The two most natural are probably:

Hi, my name is Joe, and I work in a button factory.

Hi, my name is Joe and I work in a button factory.

The former of these breaks up the statement more, so stresses the sequentiality of the parts: first you’re giving your name, then where you work. The second puts the two clauses on a more equal footing: you’re giving two statements about yourself at the same time.

It would be much less likely, but one could imagine situations where a third option would work:

Hi, my name is Joe, and I work, in a button factory.

This version separates out “I work” as an independent assertion, with the location “in a button factory” then elaborating on it. One wouldn’t normally want to do this — usually, the significant information is where I work, not just the fact that I do — but it could make sense in response to something like “Hello, my name’s Mary, and I’m currently unemployed.”

Aside: Punctuation is amazingly powerful, almost as much as tone of voice! If we start changing other aspects of the punctuation, we can get lots more meanings out of the same words:

Hi! My name is Joe! And I work in a button factory!

Hi, my name is Joe, and I work in… a button factory?

etc, etc.

  • 5
    To continue your alternative punctuation. Hi, my name is Joe and I "work" in a button factory. – Adrian Jul 21 '11 at 9:33

As others have said, a comma before the and is optional and helps express a slightly different meaning. But it should be noted that the first comma, after the Hi is required to separate Hi as an interjection. So Hi, my name is Joe.. is correct, but Hi my name is Joe... is not.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.