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I'm a complete imbecile when it comes to grammar. Could someone kindly help me properly place the punctuation in this sentence:

  1. Hi, I'm a lost cause, people!

  2. Hi; I'm a lost cause, people!

  3. Hi! I'm a lost cause, people!

  4. Hi, I'm a lost cause people! (obviously not :)

Which one of those is correct (or best)? The third? The first one doesn't look too bad, does it?

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    All have the incongruity of Groucho's 'Hello, I Must Be Leaving', but sadly not the humour. – Edwin Ashworth Apr 2 '17 at 16:22
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    I'm not really interested in notions of "correct" when it comes to punctuation (or orthographic "standards" in general), but you might find it interesting to look at what most other writers do (the search string there matches actual letters, and any number of "non-letters" just counts as one space, so it'll pick up every credible punctuation). Anyway, it seems to me most people don't bother with the exclamation mark, but they do tend to go for a comma. You missed out Hi. I'm sorry I didn't cover all permutations, people! :) – FumbleFingers Apr 2 '17 at 16:34
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    You mention grammar but then go on to discuss punctuation. Grammar is syntax and morphology, the stuff of the real language, which is the spoken language. Punctuation like spelling is an aspect of orthography, how to write something in “the standard” way, and therefore is about writing not about grammar. – tchrist Apr 2 '17 at 16:40
  • If I were the invitée, I might respond. – Lambie Apr 2 '17 at 16:58
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This one is stylistically acceptable:

Hi! I'm a lost cause, people!

The others are both wrong and awkward.

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