Addressing Names, Nicknames and Pet Names in Writing

When you’re addressing someone, that is, calling them by name (pet name, nick name, title as a name, etc), the person’s name must be offset with a comma – always.

See, there is this thing with commas that any part of the sentence that could be lifted out of the sentence without changing the meaning of the sentence must be offset with a comma or set of commas.

Names are included in that.

Michy, do you want to go to the store?

Do you want to go to the store, Michy?

Do you want to go to the store?

All three of these mean the same thing. Michy can be removed from the sentence, without changing the meaning of the sentence. Now, granted, adding a person’s name to the sentence does indeed clarify who a person is talking to, but it’s not necessary. If you and Michy are the only two people in the world, it’s pretty clear you don’t NEED to address someone by name, then the name is able to be removed.

I’m really going the long way around on that one.

Thanks, Joe.

I appreciate your help, Martha.

Hey, Jim, when will we see the game?

Peter, how you doing?

See, commas to offset the name. It’s the same way for mid-sentence name addresses too.

When I went to see it, Mary, it was like a fantasy.

If I were to tell you, Peter, that I want you to do it now, would you listen?

See, when the name comes at the end of the sentence, the comma is before the name. When the name comes at the beginning of the sentence, the comma goes after the name, and when the name is in the middle, the name is offset both before and after by commas.

Also, keep in mind the things we use INSTEAD of names, like pet names, nicknames, terms of endearment or insults that are in place of names: bitch, jerk, ass, baby, honey, sweetie, dear. If you can remove the pet name or nickname and replace it with the person’s name instead, then the nickname or pen name is also offset with commas and treated just as though you are addressing them by their name.

I love you, baby.

I love you, Michy.

Some will argue that when using pet name as nick names or name replacments, that the pet name or term of endearment should be capitalized. I don’t do this usually. “baby” is not a proper name, so I see no reason to capitalize it. Same with ‘hon’ ‘honey’ ‘sweetie’, etc.

However, the exception to this that I do capitalize is when using things like “mom” and ‘dad’.

Did you know my dad took me to the store? (not capitalized)

Did you know Dad took me to the store?

One is being used as what the person is while the other is being used as a title/name of the person, in place of a proper name. The reason for Mom and Dad is, to the child, Mom and Dad IS their name and not a nickname or a title. But hey, that’s just me.

But the capitalization is for another blog.

For this blog, the important thing to remember is to offset addressing a person by name, pen name, pet name, nick name or title with a comma.

Keep writing!

Love and stuff,