I just wrote to someone,

Tell Alivia Wyatt says hi.

Am I missing a comma? It seems like there almost has to be one between the names. I find it a strange sentence to punctuate.

  • 8
    There's nothing wrong with the sentence, and it doesn't need any punctuation. If OP is discomfitted by the two consecutive nouns, he can just put that in between them. Commented Oct 17, 2011 at 16:48
  • 2
    FumbleFingers, why did you write a comment instead of an answer that can be voted on and accepted?
    – GollyJer
    Commented Oct 17, 2011 at 16:59
  • I write too many answers already. People can upvote my comment if they agree with it, and I certainly don't mind if anyone (including you!) just cut the text and paste it as an answer - I'd even upvote that myself if there wasn't a better answer within a few hours! Commented Oct 17, 2011 at 17:04
  • @FumbleFingers: If it's a good answer and the OP wants to accept it as the answer, then why not just post as an answer? Commented Oct 17, 2011 at 17:05
  • 4
    "Tell John Wayne said hi."
    – TLP
    Commented Oct 17, 2011 at 17:21

3 Answers 3


A comma would not make sense there, but using "that" in between Alivia and Wyatt would provide the separation that you are perceiving is needed.

  • @FumbleFingers didn't realize you'd already said the same exact thing in the comments, if you want to answer down here and claim your sweet, sweet rep points I'll delete this answer.
    – kekekela
    Commented Oct 17, 2011 at 17:33
  • 2
    If FumbleFingers wanted to claim the rep for his answer, he should have posted it as an answer. :D
    – Marthaª
    Commented Oct 17, 2011 at 17:58
  • 1
    I'm quite happy with this answer. The only point I can see anywhere on this page that's worth adding to it is the one made by @TLP's incisive comment "Tell John Wayne said hi." Unless I'm much mistaken, it's the two consecutive nouns that are bothering OP, and that variation seems a really good way of calling attention to the issue. Commented Oct 17, 2011 at 18:25
  • Thanks for the answer. "That" is definitely better to use in writing. In person we can alliterate to make the intention clear.
    – GollyJer
    Commented Oct 18, 2011 at 18:52

This is a simple imperative statement, with the implied subject "you", the verb "tell", indirect object "Alivia", and direct object "Wyatt says hi".

In this case, one would not use a comma between the two names. Consider an equivalently structured sentence.

Throw me the ball.


Tell -> Throw
Alivia -> me
Wyatt says hi -> the ball

We would not write

Throw me, the ball.

as this would seem to say that I am the ball, and you should throw me.

Putting a comma between the two names would change the meaning, and would seem to say "Tell Alivia (something, probably specified in the previous sentence), because/and Wyatt says hi."

This is a more complicated issue than most simple commands, because the object is both an entire sentence on its own, and a direct quote.


If you're worried, you could put quotes round Wyatt says hi. Compare:

He said "Wyatt says hi"
He said that Wyatt says hi

Come to that, you could also put quotes round hi, as it's reported speech.

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