Interesting debate on Twitter about grammar today. I was told that whenever you address someone you're supposed to use a comma. Personally, I always use a stamp.
But seriously, apparently "Hello, Katie" is grammatically correct and "Hello Katie" is not. I'm of a generation where grammar wasn't considered important for children to learn. Never mind the antiquated rare rules, the very basics wasn't taught. (Or is that "weren't taught"?)
If someone mentioned pronouns and adverbs, I would pretend I knew what they were talking about while panicking inside.
The Twitter debate brought back those old fears of being found out as not a true writer. What writer doesn't know the basic tools of their trade? But I've changed. I now believe that maybe my politically correct anti-elitist educators were right: the only thing that matters is communicating clearly. And only the grammar rules that help us to do that matter.
"A comma goes before the name of the person you're addressing" may well be true but how does it enhance the communication? A lot of grammar rules were arbitrary or invented and then put in a book where they became gospel and sacred. The only Internet source I could find about that particular rule suggests that both "Hello, Katie" and "Hello Katie" are acceptable.
However, nowadays, using the comma in that way in fiction or screenplay dialogue indicates a breath or pause. Even if the reader understood it was grammatically correct, in the context of a book or script it would be wrong and lead to miscommunication. The comma means pause in dialogue just as a full stop means the end of a sentence^
Accepting this does not mean accepting the collapse of civilisation. Those of us who accept that the language and its rules evolve are not barbarians who will next want to bring in phonetic spelling and discard punctuation completely. That couldn't happen because it is contrary to my earlier point, "the only thing that matters is clear communication."
A workshop to explore the archives
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