Let’s take a look at commas with names and salutations, as we’ve been receiving various questions on the topic from our readers.
Are There Commas After Greetings?
Question: Do I have to use a comma with a person’s name when I say “Hi” or “Hello”? For example:
- Hi, Maria.
- Hello, Nigel.
- Good morning, Kendra.
Answer: Yes, you need to use a comma between the person’s name and the greeting. (But see exceptions below.) The reason is “direct address.” We use commas to show that we are talking to the reader, not about the reader.
- Hello, Rene.
- Danny, thank you for your thoughtful message.
- Congratulations, Michael!
- I hope you know, Donelle, that we appreciate your hard work.
- I am writing to you, Kathryn, with some sad news.
Exception 1: Don’t use a comma with the greeting Dear, as in:
- Dear Claudio:
- Dear Claudio,
If you are wondering why I have shown the Dear Claudio greeting (salutation) with both a colon and a comma, the colon (:) is used in business letters. The comma is used in personal ones (congratulations, condolences).
Exception 2: At times–for example, in email–you may choose to leave out the comma before the name when the greeting is “Hi”:
- Hi Freddie,
- Hi Jess!
- Hi Gregg–
You can make that choice to have a breezier, less official sounding greeting. However, it still makes sense to use a comma with longer greetings:
- Good morning, Ahmed.
- Hello, Treena,
A note on Microsoft Office: The spellcheck feature in Office will flag sentences with “thank you” and a person’s name, with the suggestion “Fragment (consider revising).”
- Example: Dahlia, thank you for the concert tickets.
Sentences like the one above are perfect–ignore the suggestion.
If you have questions about commas, check our punctuation tips section, or pick up a good reference book. For business letters, we recommend The Gregg Reference Manual.
You should use a comma between the person’s name and the greeting. The reason is “direct address.” The are two exceptions:
1. No comma is needed when using “dear.”
2. You may opt for a breezier greeting in an email by leaving out the comma, such as “Hi Jen.”