I have found similar questions but couldn't find an answer to fit mine, so I am sorry if I have asked a question which has already been asked.

This is an example of the sentence:

"Sit down please John!"

Should it be "Sit down, please, John!" or "Sit down please, John!" or "Sit down, please John!"?

Thank you.

  • 1
    Possible duplicate of Is the vocative comma a recent thing? – FumbleFingers Oct 12 '19 at 12:10
  • I would prefer the first version, and definitely not the third. – Kate Bunting Oct 12 '19 at 12:27
  • It's certainly very plausible in speech. Should the best way to show it in writing (a) seek to adhere to a hard-to-find 'rule' drawn up by someone perhaps interested more in the rules per se than in how useful people would find them, or (b) seek to use commas in such a way as may most faithfully represent actual speech (but may be subjective and liable to misconstrual)? I can picture a no-pause << Sit down please John. >> but might chicken out with the probably less contentious << Sit down please, John. >> There might be a hint of a pause, and please John may be slightly garden-pathy. – Edwin Ashworth Oct 12 '19 at 13:06

Eats shoots and leaves.... Is this a hungry gunman or a description of a panda bear? It depends where you put the comma:

Eats, shoots and leaves - definitely a hungry assassin.

Eats shoots, and leaves - a description applicable to a panda bear in a zoo in Oxford (See Oxford comma).

Eats shoots and leaves - applicable to a less well educated panda bear that has never been to Oxford.

With regard to your question:

  • "Sit down, please, John!" - No - overly cluttered and difficult to read.
  • "Sit down please, John!" - probably a general comment to the room, with a forceful direct reference to John (Who is being especially disruptive...),from someone with some authority over John.

  • "Sit down, please John!" - probably a general statement to the room, but from someone with less authority over John (Pleading for him to comply).

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.