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Questions tagged [vocatives]

Questions relating to nouns used in direct address, such as “John, what do you think you’re doing there?” or “Someone wants to see you now, Mr. President,” or in the archaic “O ye of little faith!”

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What kind of word is "Brother" or "Sister"? [duplicate]

Some Christians use "Brother" or "Sister" before referring to someone, and usually they prefix the word before their name (e.g. Brother Aaron). I am asking what the use of this ...
ruenaud's user avatar
  • 11
25 votes
8 answers
7k views

Is the "stupid" in "Keep it simple, stupid" a form of address or a second adjective that you should "keep it"?

i.e. is the comma to signify the boundary between the instruction and the recipient of it (that is to say, "Hey, stupid! Keep it simple"), or is it serving the function of an "and" ...
Chris A's user avatar
  • 376
9 votes
3 answers
281 views

What explains the restrictions on determinative "you"?

As Huddleston & Pullum note, "you" can sometimes be used as a determiner: You idiots never learn. I'll never understand you idiots. But this generally can't occur in the singular: *...
alphabet's user avatar
  • 19.1k
12 votes
6 answers
2k views

Confusion from a Vocative Comma before a List

Is there any alternative punctuation to eliminate the ambiguity between the vocative comma and the list comma in a sentence like "John, Paul, George, and Ringo arrived earlier." The idea is ...
Dion Wall's user avatar
  • 137
1 vote
1 answer
119 views

Do you need a comma before directly adressing someone, when their name is preceded by some short word?

I was wondering which one of these sentences is correct. In the first example, the name of the person we are directly addressing is placed between commas, just as I was taught since forever. In the ...
user avatar
1 vote
1 answer
212 views

Why isn't there a comma in "Unloose him Frodo!"?

I was rather shocked by the extremely sparse use of commas by Tolkien, but in most cases, it still falls "within reason". However, there is one place (so far) in The Two Towers which just ...
Faramir's user avatar
  • 19
5 votes
4 answers
2k views

Can an imperative sentence have a subject?

Can an imperative sentence have a subject? This is a followup to this comment. User Schmuddi asserted that: English imperative sentences are subjectless. but did not cite any source or authority. I ...
David Siegel's user avatar
0 votes
1 answer
381 views

ending a statement with a name

Is it possible to end a statement with a person's name, without the name being a direct/vocative address? For example, I say, "Please hand me the jar, David." It is clear that I am ...
Indira Singh's user avatar
0 votes
2 answers
52 views

vocative comma when talking

If I say, "IwilldocardiologyHoney........Will I get richer today? By default, since there is no increased pause between cardiology and Honey, must the words "I will do cardiology" ...
Indira Singh's user avatar
0 votes
0 answers
236 views

vocative comma by default

If I say, "I will go skiing Nonna....." By default are the words preceding Nonna being addressed to Nonna? Or can I argue that my words preceding Nonna are not being addressed to Nonna, but ...
Indira Singh's user avatar
0 votes
0 answers
30 views

punctuating speech - comma versus period

If I said, "I will go fishing John will I go shopping today." If I take "Will I go shopping today" to be a separate sentence on its own. Is there a way of punctuating it so that ...
Indira Singh's user avatar
6 votes
2 answers
212 views

Addressing a person by occupation

In Dorothy Gladys “Dodie” Smith’s 1956 children’s novel, The Hundred and One Dalmatians, the author writes: But though you can call a cook ‘Cook’, the one thing you cannot call a butler is ‘Butler’ ...
Leon Conrad's user avatar
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0 votes
2 answers
351 views

On the capitalization of familial honorifics

We all know that Mom and Dad are capitalized when used in dialogue as a substitute for a name. But is it the same for big sister, big brother, big sis, and big bro? One example of the sentence would ...
Gerry Giovan's user avatar
1 vote
0 answers
228 views

Is it necessary to use a vocative comma in an email, specifically a professional email?

I received an email this morning from a candidate for an Executive Director position. Thanks Kim. This is how the email began. It immediately made a negative impression and caused me to feel ...
Kim's user avatar
  • 11
-1 votes
1 answer
233 views

Different forms of addressing parents

In my language there is an older form in which you use kinship term in the middle of a sentence, in which normally you would use "you". Here's how this would look translated to English Normal -> "Dad,...
user385889's user avatar
-2 votes
1 answer
168 views

Is the vocative comma a recent thing?

It's usually considered necessary in the modern day, but I find the further back you go, the less frowned on its absence seems to be. I seem to remember a few vocative sentences in The Hobbit without ...
Angelos's user avatar
  • 391
10 votes
2 answers
2k views

Ad­dress­ing boys and girls dif­fer­ently in (Vic­to­rian?) English schools

In Jane Eyre by Char­lotte Brontë I read: “Burns” (such it seems was her name: the girls here were all called by their sur­names, as boys are else­where)... So my ques­tion is: were there (or ...
v_2e's user avatar
  • 201
1 vote
1 answer
588 views

Vocative case and plural - 'thou art' [duplicate]

In a previous question about the English of the KJV a link was helpfully supplied and I read the following The vocative case is used when directly addressing a person with a noun identifying the ...
Nigel J's user avatar
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7 votes
5 answers
1k views

Dad, auntie, nana, grandpa, etc... What is this group of words used as informal family nicknames called?

When explaining to someone learning French when one has to use vous (the “formal you” pronoun) or tu (the “informal you” pronoun), there is a basic rule of thumb I find useful: Vous — Used when ...
Babika Babaka's user avatar
6 votes
2 answers
9k views

"Madam President" vs "Mrs. President"

Last year I noticed some T-shirts for fans of the female presidential candidate in the US: However, there is a female US President in one of my favourite TV shows, who is always addressed "Madam ...
vojta's user avatar
  • 161
0 votes
1 answer
176 views

Commas, commas everywhere and not a proper comma placed!

I'm a complete imbecile when it comes to grammar. Could someone kindly help me properly place the punctuation in this sentence: Hi, I'm a lost cause, people! Hi; I'm a lost cause, people! Hi! I'm a ...
le guest's user avatar
0 votes
1 answer
315 views

He "called himself Bob" / "said his name was Bob." Natural wording? Alternative expressions?

I think the sentence "When Alice met him, he said his name was Bob. (But I suspect it may be a pseudonym.)" makes sense. But I'd like to know if there are more natural expressions, or alternatives. ...
teika kazura's user avatar
1 vote
1 answer
173 views

Keeping Up with the Joneses, Vocative Edition

TLDR: This question is about vocatives. Is there a rule to explain how to know whether you can drop a person’s name when addessing someone just by their title alone, or whether that form is ...
tchrist's user avatar
  • 136k
2 votes
1 answer
222 views

Vocative comma or comma splice?

If I wanted to start a sentence with "hey" and follow that with someone's name, would a comma go after the name too? Here's what I mean: 1: "Hey, Thomas, I'm staying home today." 2: "Hey, ...
Ethan's user avatar
  • 83
1 vote
1 answer
3k views

Vocative comma before "all"?

When using the vocative comma, would it go before "all"? "Thank you, all, again!" Or would it be without the comma? "Thank you all again!" Is this different from "everybody"?
Tim's user avatar
  • 109
1 vote
2 answers
6k views

“You Guys” or “You, Guys” [closed]

The simple rules of using a comma before and after the vocative case state that you write, for example, What do you, Mark, think about the book? But what about “you guys” / “you, guys”? Or, for that ...
James's user avatar
  • 19
9 votes
3 answers
216k views

Should I put a comma after "Thank you"? [duplicate]

A coworker replied to an earlier email from me with some very good news. I wanted to thank him for his help. I was hoping to start with Thank you, Jim. That is wonderful news... OR is it ...
Dan's user avatar
  • 93
1 vote
1 answer
8k views

Unmarried Madam

In Spanish there is señora and señorita; in French there is madame and mademoiselle; and in English there is Mrs and Miss. My question is whether in English we also have to call women Madam or Ma’am ...
SophArch's user avatar
  • 945
4 votes
1 answer
6k views

Is vocative comma rule vanishing?

According to some grammars[1][2] and CMS... "Interjections and vocative should be separated from the rest of the sentence by commas". The vocative case [1] is used to indicate direct address (i.e., ...
rdllopes's user avatar
  • 157
1 vote
2 answers
2k views

Comma issue: noun of direct address in the middle of the sentence after conjunction

Another nitpicky comma question that I hope you will help me to resolve. How does one need to punctuate the noun of direct address (or vocative) in the middle of the sentence that goes directly after ...
Paul S.'s user avatar
  • 369
0 votes
1 answer
154 views

Brothers everywhere, raise... or Brothers, everywhere raise...?

In the song "Warriors of the World United," how should one punctuate the following sentence? Brothers everywhere, raise your hands into the air! or Brothers, everywhere raise your hands into ...
Siegfried Zaytsev's user avatar
4 votes
2 answers
2k views

What's the subject in "You, go to the store"?

In the following sentence, what is the function of "You"? You, go to the store. I know the sentence is in the imperative mood, and that generally means there is an implicit second-person subject. ...
R. Martinho Fernandes's user avatar
6 votes
2 answers
70k views

"Happy Birthday sir!" or "Happy Birthday, sir!"?

Which one is grammatically correct? Happy Birthday sir! Happy Birthday, sir! And where should I put "sir" in this sentence? Congratulations for completing another trip around the sun! Also suggest ...
Maverick's user avatar
  • 315
18 votes
6 answers
4k views

Why can I use 'guys' in the plural but not in the singular vocatively

We went to a pizza restaurant the other evening and the waiter insisted on referring to us as 'guys'. I responded by calling him 'guy'. 'What kind of beer have you got, guy?' My wife said she ...
WS2's user avatar
  • 64.8k
1 vote
1 answer
439 views

What is the difference between a vocative and an epithet?

I've seen them used in almost similar circumstances, and I'm not sure what the difference is. The victim cried out in despair. He was a real idiot. Are those vocatives, epithets, or neither? ...
Olivia N's user avatar
7 votes
3 answers
1k views

What case is used for pronouns in the vocative?

A coauthor and I are drafting a letter, and we're not yet sure whom we're going to be sending it to. So I sent a draft to my coauthor, which started Dear [whomever]: Now, that line in a letter is ...
msh210's user avatar
  • 3,975
5 votes
3 answers
249k views

Do you always have to put a comma before someone's name? [duplicate]

Example: (1) Hello John. (2) Hello, John? (3) How are you today John? (4) How are you today, John? (5) I wish I could John. (6) I wish I could, John. Must there always be a comma before ...
Keiran's user avatar
  • 73
10 votes
1 answer
9k views

Where did we get "buster" as in "Look here, buster"?

Americans, at least, have for some time used buster in speech or dialogue as a generic form of address. It has a range of tonalities, from light to affectionate to grimly confrontational. Listen, ...
Robusto's user avatar
  • 152k
1 vote
3 answers
2k views

What is the vocative expression we can use to attract the attention of someone whose name or surname we don't know?

I was reading one of my old English Language books when I came across this: "Madame, Señora, Signora, etc, are foreign vocative expressions and they have no equivalent, in either ...
Centaurus's user avatar
  • 50.2k
6 votes
3 answers
6k views

Comma after address

Here's an example: Chocolate lovers rejoice! Chocolate lovers, rejoice! To my understanding, the first one says that chocolate lovers are rejoicing and in the second one, we are asking the ...
user55938's user avatar
  • 113
-2 votes
1 answer
5k views

Omitting commas in brief statements

In a brief exhortation followed by the name of a sports team, such as "Let's go, Dodgers!" or "Go, Phillies!" is it ever appropriate to omit the comma?
Scott Skelton's user avatar
6 votes
4 answers
2k views

The vocative case and comma splices

I've been trying to find an answer to this question for some time, and have finally decided to... well, buck up some courage and ask. In sentences like these two "Hello, Mary, how are you?" "Don'...
Widow's user avatar
  • 61
7 votes
3 answers
1k views

Is ‘USAers’ just an ordinary English word today?

I saw the word, ‘USAers’ in the lead copy of Reuter’s news titled ‘Gippered’ in Time magazine (September 6), which says: “More than 1/3 of USAers say they are worse off under Bam. Warning-sign ...
Yoichi Oishi's user avatar
  • 70.2k
2 votes
2 answers
11k views

What is the connotation of the word 'O'? [closed]

What is the author trying to convey with the word 'O' in the following: He has told you, O man, what is good;
fbrereto's user avatar
  • 1,048
21 votes
5 answers
369k views

Is it acceptable to drop the comma in "Thanks, John"? [duplicate]

I grew up learning that the comma must be placed there, but it seems like an unnecessary interruption in a phrase that isn't ever spoken that way.
chimerical's user avatar