Writing Glitch #23

Today’s glitch:


I like this one. Imagine if the speaker was being literal when she said she needed to get to Mexico yesterday.

This is how it should be punctuated, though:

“Hey, buddy, I got a thousand, cash, and I need to get to Mexico yesterday.”

Here, buddy is a direct address, so it needs to be separated from the rest of the dialogue with commas before and after. (Of course, if a direct address is the first word of a sentence, there is no place for a comma before it, just as there’s no place after it for the last word of a sentence, but if it falls anywhere in the middle, you need both commas.) The sentence is also compound, so that’s another comma needed. You could leave out the comma before cash; this is a time when how you interpret the sentence will determine how you punctuate it, although it doesn’t make a lot of difference either way in this particular example. If the sentence had said a thousand dollars (or pounds, or credits, or whatever), you definitely wouldn’t need the comma before it.


About Thomas Weaver

I’m a writer and editor who got into professional editing almost by accident years ago when a friend from university needed someone to copyedit his screenplay about giant stompy robots (mecha). Having discovered that I greatly enjoy this kind of work, I’ve been putting my uncanny knack for grammar and punctuation, along with an eclectic mental collection of facts, to good use ever since as a Wielder of the Red Pen of Doom. I'm physically disabled, and for the past several years, I’ve lived with my smugly good-looking twin Paul, who writes military science fiction and refuses to talk about his military service because he can’t. Sometimes Paul and I collaborate on stories, and sometimes I just edit whatever he writes. It's worked out rather well so far. My list of non-writing-related jobs from the past includes librarian, art model, high school teacher, science lab gofer… Although I have no spouse or offspring to tell you about, I do have six cats. (The preferred term is "Insane Cat Gentleman.") I currently spend my time blogging, reading, editing, and fending off cats who like my desk better than my twin’s.
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