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Thread: English commas, oh my God...

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    English commas, oh my God...

    Well, this is a question about something what is truly my headache, for a long time already. I can't get if one should use a comma in sentences like those below, or not. I’ve heard from a native speaker that a comma is no need here, that it’s a mistake. Actually, although the sentences without a comma looked weird to me, I believed him. I saw such punctuation very often on forums, but what was it: an illiteracy or just a rule of English language? I couldn’t know.
    Ok, recently I was watching a movie in English, with English subtitles, and all the addresses were marked out with commas there.
    So, it is a torture for me!!!!

    Could someone please just tell me if a comma is needed here, or not?

    Daddy, I want this toy.

    I want this toy, daddy.

    John, can you go to fetch bread?

    Yes, sir.

    Yes, my dear.

    John, I forgot to take the camera.

    You know, John, I forgot to take the camera.

    Let's go, my friend.

    John, could you be more polite?

    Thank you, John.
    In Russian, all nationalities and their corresponding languages start with a lower-case letter.

  2. #2
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    Commas in English are a tough one because there are more cases where they are optional than there are cases where they are required, and to compound the problem usage isn't particularly stable. Go back a century or two and read (for example, off the top of my head) anything written by Charles Darwin or David Hume, and you'll see prose that is absolutely modern Engish in every way except there are an order of magnitude more commas than you would ever find in modern writing, in fact usage back then seems to me much closer to how Russian is punctuated. The thing is, the rules and guidelines haven't actually changed in all that time, all that has happened is that the neutral point has shifted from a style where optional commas were always included to one where optional commas are rarely included.

    So technically all of those are OK. They would look a bit stilted and over-punctuated in some modern informal writing styles, or on an internet forum, especially since they are all direct speech which tends to be less heavily punctuated than ordinary prose anyway, but I wouldn't consider them "mistakes" by a long stretch.

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    Слишком быстро, я не понял. ©

    Actually, I meant, particularly, the commas when you address someone. Ok, I'm glad it's not a mistake.
    In Russian, all nationalities and their corresponding languages start with a lower-case letter.

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    I would say that the sentences

    John, can you go to fetch bread?

    John, could you be more polite?


    absolutely require the comma. I can imagine seeing the other sentences with or without.

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    Yes, usually if there is a vocative (someone being addressed directly) you should put a comma,

    If I was talking to John:

    "You know, John, you are very handsome"
    Ты знаешь, Джон,....

    But if I was talking about John:

    "Do you know John? He is very handsome."
    Ты знаешь Джона?....

    I'm pretty sure it's the same in Russian.

    Strictly speaking the comma should be there to indicate that the name is not the direct object of the verb.
    Ingenting kan stoppa mig
    In Post-Soviet Russia internet porn downloads YOU!

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    Oh, I'm so happy that a comma is needed! More or less... but anyway.
    In Russian, all nationalities and their corresponding languages start with a lower-case letter.

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    I hate commas!! I haven't mastered them yet and I'm a native speaker... They are nasty little buggers...

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    Commas are bitches, but just wait 'til ( :P ) you get to the semi-colons!
    Correct my mistakes and I will give you +1 internets.

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    People, who don't understand the correct usage of commas, may get themselves in trouble, grammatically speaking, that is.

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    Well, the famous example (I think I learned while I was still in school):

    A woman without her man is nothing.

    --> A woman, without her man, is nothing.
    OR -->A woman: without her, man is nothing.

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    In my class on the role of grammar in the ESL classroom we had a lesson on commas. We got a list of the major rules of how commas are used in English, then we read an article by Peter Jennings (a famous journalist). We then were supposed to look at each comma in the article and say which rule it demonstrated. It turned out that about half of the commas didn't go with any of the established rules.

    The only lesson here is that there are quite a few informal rules about commas in English.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ZelyeUrsuli
    Well, the famous example (I think I learned while I was still in school):

    A woman without her man is nothing.

    --> A woman, without her man, is nothing.
    OR -->A woman: without her, man is nothing.
    I bet 2 kopecks a woman told you this.
    Correct my mistakes and I will give you +1 internets.

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    Quote Originally Posted by xRoosterx
    I bet 2 kopecks a woman told you this.
    Correct

    --

    When I was in school, one rule we learned for commas was to use them where we would take a pause. Or, vice versa, when reading, you pause when you see a comma.

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    Re: English commas, oh my God...

    Cambridge Grammar of English:

    1 With tags and responses
    Tags and yes-no responses are separated by commas:
    He is going to be there, isn’t he?
    I’m thirsty, I am.
    Yes, thank you. I’d be delighted to accept.

    2 With vocatives, discourse markers and interjections
    Vocatives, discourse markers and interjections are also punctuated with commas:
    Open the door for them, Jake, can you. Thanks.
    The trouble is, doctor, I’ve stopped taking the prescription.
    Ros, can you get me a paper while you’re out.
    Well, what do you suppose they did about it?
    Oh, so, you’ll be off in about an hour, then?



    Quote Originally Posted by Оля
    Could someone please just tell me if a comma is needed here, or not?

    2 Daddy, I want this toy.

    2 I want this toy, daddy.

    2 John, can you go to fetch bread?

    1 Yes, sir.

    1 Yes, my dear.

    2 John, I forgot to take the camera.

    2 You know, John, I forgot to take the camera.

    2 Let's go, my friend.

    2 John, could you be more polite?

    2 Thank you, John.

    But who sets the rules of the English language?

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    Смутьян.
    «И всё, что сейчас происходит внутре — тоже является частью вселенной».

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    Re: English commas, oh my God...

    Quote Originally Posted by on-don


    But who sets the rules of the English language?
    Ingenting kan stoppa mig
    In Post-Soviet Russia internet porn downloads YOU!

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    Re: English commas, oh my God...

    Quote Originally Posted by Оля
    I saw such punctuation very often on forums, but what was it: an illiteracy or just a rule of English language?
    Please don't try to learn grammar by reading forums unless they're adult oriented and are discussing something of substance. The language used by young people on pop, social forums is atrocious, making one wonder at the level of literacy of the average native English speaking youth.
    Кому - нары, кому - Канары.

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    Re: English commas, oh my God...

    Quote Originally Posted by sperk
    Please don't try to learn grammar by reading forums unless they're adult oriented and are discussing something of substance. The language used by young people on pop, social forums is atrocious, making one wonder at the level of literacy of the average native English speaking youth.
    I visit only a pair of forums in English, this one and another one which is linguistic.
    In Russian, all nationalities and their corresponding languages start with a lower-case letter.

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