Stop These Creeping Commas!

In the last 10 days, I have repeatedly seen examples of a crazy comma use. Each one appeared at the end of an email. All these examples are real and wrong:

Thank you for your request,

I'll see you then,

Thank you for your time and patience in this matter,

Let me know if you have any questions, 

Please write if you have any questions, 

Thank you again, 

These are sentences! Sentences end with a period (full stop)–not a comma.

I attribute this creeping comma on the widespread use of "Thanks" as a complimentary close in emails. People have been following "Thanks" with a comma. I don't recommend a comma after "Thanks" (I use a period), but its use is too popular to argue with. (In truth, I always offer specific thanks, as in "Thank you for your help" or "Thank you again for your order.")

Despite the use of "Thanks" followed by a comma as a complimentary close, can we please stop using commas after closing sentences? 

Are you with me on this one? 

Lynn
Syntax Training 

P.S. Punctuation for Professionals, my online self-study course, will help you know exactly where punctuation goes–and why. 

56 COMMENTS

  1. I’m guilty of using a comma after “Thanks” to close my emails. I do so primarily because it seems less harsh in tone than a period would be in that position. That said, I like your suggestion to include a more specific thanks, which would likely have the same softening effect (in my head, anyway).

    As a professional writer, I’ve been following your blog for years. Thanks for another great post! 🙂

  2. I agree with Leaf. I tend to use the comma so as not I sound so abrupt. Plus my employer requires a ‘signature’ with a closing,our full name and contact info, the company logo, and a hyperlink to a survey! With all that ‘weight’ , I always feel the need to personalize a bit with the “Thanks,”.

    By the way, I once had a boss who always used “…” after his requests. I felt he was unsure, or maybe there was a veiled threat or tacit “…or else” at first until I understood he was period-adverse so as not to sound so dictatorial.

  3. I understand your consternation at the use of the comma after “Thanks.” I think it’s taken its place along with “Best regards,” and “Best.” I had never seen the use of “Best” until email. I guess we have to go with the times.

  4. I go back and forth, sometime depending on my train of thought, and gut feeling after each closing salutation.

    Best regards,
    Bob VL

    OR
    Best Regards.

    Thanks Lynn.

    Bob VL

  5. Hello, Leaf TP, Jennifer, AbdAllah, Abdullah, Jeannette, and Bob. I apologize for my slow response here. I was focused on a project I had to finish.

    Leaf TP, thanks for letting me know you have been following the blog for years. Like you, many people use a comma after “Thanks.” It’s here to stay, and eventually I will get on board with it.

    Jennifer, thank you for that funny example from your former boss. I can understand how you were worried about his ellipses.

    AbdAllah, you are welcome. Many people use a comma after “Thanks” even though I do not.

    Abdullah, thanks for stopping by.

    Jeannette, we agree. I have begun to use “Best” after viewing it as incomplete for years. And thank you for displaying the correct use of “it’s” and “its” just two words apart!

    Bob, I urge you to use your first choice. My style guides all agree that your first choice is perfect. The period is never correct after a complimentary close. Also, the second word of the close is not capitalized.

    Thanks, all, for commenting!

    Lynn

  6. Are there instances when a complementary close doesn’t end with a comma? I know that the Mayfield Guide for Technical Writers requires all complementary closes to end in a comma, I don’t know of APA/MLA address it? If so (and I believe yes), then we have to define complimentary close. Webster’s says “the words that conventionally come immediately before the signature of a letter and express the sender’s regard for the receiver”
    I think that many of the examples that you gave would fit this definition, albeit a bit loosely. In which case they may be correct. Thoughts?

    Thanks for your consideration of this comment,
    Michael

  7. Hi, Michael. Thanks for your question. I think the only close listed above that might match the Webster’s definition is “Thank you again.” I regard it as a sentence, but others may see it differently.

    I got a good laugh from your closing sentence followed by a comma. Yes, it’s definitely a sentence!

    Lynn

  8. I have always closed with something like: Regards, [my name].

    However, i now wonder why Regards, [my name] is any different from Thanks, [my name].

    After all, Thanks, [my name] implies i am thanking myself. Why then does Regards, [my name] not imply that i am sending myself regards?

  9. Hello Riko,

    I recommend not thinking too hard about this issue. Usage guides agree that “Regards” followed by a comma is correct.

    Your name should be on a separate line. With that separation, no one should think you are regarding or thanking yourself.

    Lynn

  10. Thanks, Lynn. I’ve actually come to the same conclusion that putting one’s name on a separate line should avoid any ambiguity.

    By the way, shouldn’t you have written: ‘Hello, Riko.’ (instead of ‘Hello Riko,’?

  11. Good catch, Riko!

    I have finally given in to the popular way of greeting, with the comma after the name but not before it. These days people use “Hi” and “Hello” like “Dear”:

    Dear Riko,
    Hello Riko,
    Hi Riko,

    I held off on making this shift until I realized I was one of the few people using the direct-address comma before the name. Now I use the approach shown in the examples above–if I use a separate line for the greeting. If I greet the reader in the paragraph, I continue to use the comma before the name, like this:

    Hi, Riko. Thanks for your input.

    Lynn

  12. Lynn,
    I urge you not to give in to popular thinking. 🙂 Of course, you are absolutely right when saying: “These days people use “Hi” and “Hello” like “Dear”. But that doesn’t make it correct. It’s a bit like the creeping use of ‘was’ in place of ‘were’. My personal opinion on these matters is that people should speak how they wish, as long as they know how to write correctly.
    Have a lovely weekend!
    Riko

  13. Quick question:

    When writing marketing copy, where the visual representation of the line breaks and paragraph shape matter, can commas immediately before a line break be removed?

    Super rough example:

    You asked and we listened.
    We’re re-releasing our most popular vehicle
    and we know you’re going to love it.

    That’s a really rough example, but the point is that there would normally be a comma after gizmo. For the sake of conversation, let’s say that due to strict design requirements, the line break needs to occur.

    Again, this is a marketing/advertising situation where the visual aspect and removal of visual noise is important.

    Is this acceptable?

    Thanks!

  14. Lynn,

    I send birthday cards to clients and usually end with the following:

    Sincerely your agent,

    Sand P

    Is the comma correct?

    Thanks.

  15. Hello everyone.

    I wanted to add to this conversation because I have too often seen punctuation that I don’t agree with (or, if you prefer, with which I do not agree). When I use an opening phrase like Hi, Hello, or Good morning. I use a period because I think that these expressions are an ellipsis for the more full expressions: I wish you a good morning or I bid you hello. These ellipses give us the false impression that we should use a comma. In the address and closing it seems more prudent to use a period because the shortened phrase stands in for a full sentence.

    As a closing, I use “Kindest regards.” Kindest regards is a short hand for I bid you the kindest regards or something similar. Therefore, it needs a period. I understand that we are discussing minutiae, but a comma doesn’t make sense based upon it’s usage and purpose. However, I do find it palatable to use a exclamation point after a salutation or closing. The expression is an exhortation and as such warrants such punctuation. However, in the world of business etiquette, it may not be appropriate to use such a bold mark as it could offend. Nevertheless, I bid you all a good day and a hearty thanks for this discussion.

    Jeff

  16. Hi Jeff,

    Thanks for posting your thoughts on these topics. Like you, I prefer a period after a greeting such as “Hello” or “Good morning.” But it’s just you and I against the world. Therefore, I have changed, and–as you can see–I used a comma after your name.

    “Kindest regards,” however, is a complimentary close. Those closes are always followed by a comma. When I close with “Thanks,” I use a period because “Thanks” is not a complimentary close (to my mind). It’s a statement. However, many people use a comma after “Thanks.”

    Language evolves, and we need to evolve with it.

    Lynn

  17. Hi Lynn,

    Is this correct to use at the end of email.
    Thanks comma
    a line break
    Best Regards comma
    My Name

    Example:

    Hi team,

    Here goes email body……

    Thanks,

    Best Regards,
    Beena

  18. Hello,
    I came across your post and thought some of the comments and questions were both interesting and funny. It’s amazing how many variations there are on email sign offs. I did have a question, since I honestly have no idea if there’s some strange context or rule in which this is actually appropriate or not – I once had a boss who consistently signed his emails in this way:

    Blah blah blah blah

    Thanks/Joe

    Is there any planet on which this is correct? Am I majorly missing something? I was an English major in college, so I thought I had a decent handle on these things, but I’ve thought of his emails over the years and always wondered if there was some backslash art that was simply lost on me. Lol. I thought of it again tonight when a friend posted a photo of a card she received, and the send signed off (informally of course) with a heart and a backslash also before her name. Am I crazy or is this strange? Thanks!

  19. Hi Lynn,

    I am confused with these closes:
    Thanks & Regards,
    Thanks & regards,
    Thanks & Regards
    Thanks & regards

    Which one should I use?

  20. Hi, Lynn. Are the commas in the following sentence correct?

    Thank you, Jim, for your help.

    (Is the second comma necessary?)

    Victoria

  21. Hi Lynn,

    I totally understand the need to use a comma after a close such as:

    Regards,
    Lynn

    But, what if after the close, you don’t put anything below? Would it still need a comma after? Or maybe just:

    Regards

    Thanks a lot!
    Stoki

  22. Hi Stoki,

    In Britain (and perhaps other parts of Europe) no punctuation is used after the greeting or the closing. That approach is called open punctuation. If you follow that style, your example is correct. However, in the U.S., it’s considered wrong.

    Lynn

  23. I, also, believe that current members will be more like.y to approve of it.
    Please comment on use of commas in this sentence. I believe both are improper, but my friend says they both belong.

  24. Hey,

    {
    …(contents)
    }

    Regards,
    Damini

    ——

    Is the above way of ending regards correct ?
    Or we don’t use comma ?

  25. I’m glad to see so many other people worrying over this small detail. I’m glad to see I’m not the only one who cares about it. Thank you for creating this post!

    I’m working a very simple job, and I would love to double check with you about whether or not I have been closing correctly. I tend to say this:

    Thank you, and have a great day!
    (my department)

    I’ve tried to find help on the internet, but most people still think commas are only used for “natural pauses.” Anyway, thank you again, and sorry to comment on a three year old post!

  26. Hi Jen,

    Interesting question. First, I suggest you vary your closes depending on your message. “Thank you, and have a great day” doesn’t fit every message, and it rings false when it appears repeatedly.

    I recommend using your two ideas in two separate sentences:

    Thank you. Have a great day!

    I do so because the ideas are not related. In the first part, “I” is the subject (“I thank you”). But in the second, “you” is the subject (“You have a great day”). So why connect them?

    It would be different if your message were “Stay positive and have a great day!” In that case, the subject and ideas would relate.

    Lynn

  27. Good question! No, you should not reply to all. Your purpose is to thank one person.

    If you were the boss and wanted to thank an employee and praise the individual in front of everyone, then a reply to all would make sense.

    Lynn

  28. Hi, Lynn!
    So in reading all the responses it looks signing off as follows is incorrect:

    Best regards.
    Carter

    With that said, while I evidently should be using a comma and not a period – in your opinion does it make one sound ignorant? I just personally hate the look of the comma after Best regards and feel the “.” looks more professional and adds more closure.

    Thanks in advance for your reply.

    Best regards.
    Carter

  29. Hi Lynn,
    I have an administrator who uses a period in the salutation of an email – Hi (name of the person).
    They also use a period in the closing – Thank you.
    Is this correct?

  30. Hi Elaine,

    Yes, those period are correct. The writer is using a sentence rather than a traditional salutation. I sometimes do something similar at the start of the opening paragraph: Hi Jane!

    And “Thank you” is a sentence, so a period is appropriate. It may look odd because many people use “Thank you” as a complimentary close and follow it with a comma.

    Lynn

  31. Hi Lynn, I have to confess that I’m guilty of the trailing comma. I can’t bring myself to use a full stop. It seems so brutal and final. Maybe, there’s a third way?

  32. Hi Pete,

    Let’s see . . . a third way. How about using a full stop after a final sentence such as “I look forward to seeing you” or “Thank you again for your help”? Then close with a true complimentary closing such as “Best” or “Best regards” or “Cheers” followed by a comma.

    Would that work?

    Lynn

  33. I personally use a comma at the end of such emails. I do this because, to me, it seems abrupt, and perhaps slightly rude, to have a full stop at the end of an email. I put a comma at the end because it feels like I am encouraging the conversation to continue, rather than to close it.

    So I usually would say,

    Talk soon,
    or
    Thanks again for your help,

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