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First question. Which of these "tag question" variations is most correct?

  1. You're going, right John?
  2. You're going, right, John?
  3. You're going. Right, John?

(1) looks best, imo. (2) seems more proper, though. (3) seems way too emphatic.

Second question. What is the technical/grammatical name for the person being addressed in these sentences? "John" is a proper name, obviously, but how do you describe its function within the sentences above? "Target"? "Object"? "Addressee"? I assume there's a more technical term for it.

1 Answer 1

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In your examples, John is a noun of direct address, which is always set off by commas. While this rule is still valid in formal registers, one often sees very short sentences without a comma:

Welcome students. — instead of — Welcome, students.

That would suggest that

You're going, right, John?

obeys the standard rule.

A semicolon might aid reading:

You're going; right, John?

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  • We likely have uestions about vocative commas.
    – tchrist
    Jan 27, 2018 at 17:29
  • Awesome, thank you!This actually raises a different "comma" question. Should I say, "Awesome! Thank you." or "Awesome! Thank you!" or "Awesome, thank you!"
    – Word Demon
    Jan 27, 2018 at 17:46
  • All three are fine, though exclamation marks tend to be overused.
    – KarlG
    Jan 27, 2018 at 18:22
  • I see no reason to even consider a semicolon. Tag questions only need to be set off with a comma, to separate them from the main body of the sentence. It's not as if they're an independent clause. Jan 28, 2018 at 0:39
  • A reader might parse right as a direction. Right is really isn't that right or some such.
    – KarlG
    Jan 28, 2018 at 7:33

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