comma with salutation (informal letter): Hey, Frank vs. Hey Frank

Discussion in 'English Only' started by hfpardue, Dec 10, 2007.

  1. hfpardue

    hfpardue Senior Member

    Santiago de Chile
    United States - English
    Hey, everyone. I am sure several people have asked this question, yet I was unable to find their posts. In the salutation of an informal letter, how should I use a comma? For example, should I write

    Hey, Frank,

    How have you been?

    or

    Hey Frank,

    How have you been?

    Or should I not even use a comma? I understand that grammar is not so important in an informal letter, but I still wish to write correctly. Thank you for your time.
     
  2. Gwan Senior Member

    Indre et Loire, France
    New Zealand, English
    I would go with
    "Hey Frank,
    How have you been?"
     
  3. Diddy Senior Member

    C.A. Spanish
    I always have known that after a salutation, there should be a colon : not a comma.

    Hey Frank:
    How have you been?
     
  4. Gwan Senior Member

    Indre et Loire, France
    New Zealand, English
    Personally, I always use a comma unless it's a stock phrase like "To Whom It May Concern:". In particular, I think the colon looks odd with a person's name - a little bit abrupt and unfriendly, somehow.
     
  5. hfpardue

    hfpardue Senior Member

    Santiago de Chile
    United States - English
    Every website I have been to about letter writing says a colon is used in formal letters. One website even said "Hey, Frank," and "Hey Frank" are both accepted. I guess I will use the comma just to be as correct as possible. Thanks, Gwan and Diddy.
     
  6. mplsray Senior Member

    A colon is correct only when writing a formal letter. In an informal letter addressing family or friends, a comma is required.

    I would always set off an exclamation such as "hey" or "hi" from a name with a comma, so in this case--which is obviously not a formal letter--I would write:

    "Hey, Frank,"

    In the case of "Dear Sir:" on the other hand, the "dear" is an adjective modifying the title being used for the addressee. No comma comes between the adjective and the title.
     
  7. nzfauna

    nzfauna Senior Member

    Wellington, New Zealand
    New Zealand, English
    Because you're using the informal salutation "hey", you can pretty much do as you please.

    However, I would say:

    "Hey Frank, how's it going?"

    or

    "Hey Frank

    How's it going?"

    Note punctuation and capitalisation changes.
     
  8. mplsray Senior Member

    I strongly disagree with that point. Informal speech still has rules--you can never "pretty much do as you please." This is true not just for the informal speech of speakers of a standard dialect, but it's true for nonstandard dialects and for slang as well.

    Look at it this way: You want the person you're addressing to be thinking about your message rather than being derailed by a consideration of how you put that message. In American English, at least, a colon after a greeting in an informal letter would stand out like a sore thumb.
     
  9. panjandrum

    panjandrum PongoMod

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Please look at the many, many threads about salutations.
    I'll summarise for you - as for many, many others.
    In AE, it is normal to use a colon after a salutation in business letters. Either colon or comma is OK otherwise - according to the varied opinions expressed by AE-speakers.
    In BE, always use a comma, never a colon.

    Having grumped, I have to say that if "Hey Frank" is an OK way to start your communication then how you punctuate it is entirely up to you. Feel free to use any variant, including,
    Hey Frank!
    ...

    or
    Hey, Frank?
    ...

    - as you wish.
     
  10. Grefsen

    Grefsen Senior Member

    Southern California
    English - United States
    Another variant I have sometimes seen in very informal communiciation such as in email or SMSs has used a hyphen instead of a comma:

    Hey Frank -
     
  11. Grefsen

    Grefsen Senior Member

    Southern California
    English - United States
    I just wanted to acknowledge you for being so thoughtful with your reply. :thumbsup:

    At times I've seen some foreros simply reply with something along the lines of "Please look at the many, many threads about salutations." and that is it. :(

    I routinely use the "search function," but unfortunately it isn't always working. In fact when I first saw this thread I did a search on "salutations" and came up with "no matches." When I attempted to do the same search later I ended up with 15 matches.
     
  12. panjandrum

    panjandrum PongoMod

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Thanks Grefsen, for a more complimentary post than I deserve.

    There are many threads about the format of letters.
    Unfortunately they are a jumbled heap under the general heading of letter
    Finding the posts that deal with salutations and their punctuation is more of a challenge than it ought to be.
     
  13. hfpardue

    hfpardue Senior Member

    Santiago de Chile
    United States - English
    Maybe I'm misinterpreting your message, but does "Hey Frank" not sound like an OK way to start communication? Writing "Dear Frank" sounds too cold and serious to me.
     
  14. panjandrum

    panjandrum PongoMod

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    In the right context there's nothing at all wrong with "Hey Frank" as an opening. I often start e-mails with "Hi Basil" or the equivalent. What I was trying to suggest is that this is an extremely informal greeting so whether you follow it with a comma, a colon, a dash, a smiley, or something else is not going to matter.
     
  15. salubet New Member

    English
    The correct punctuation for an informal letter is:

    Hey, Frank,

    or

    Hey, Frank--

    Because "hey" is an interjection like "wow" and not an adjective like "dear," it requires a comma separating it from the name. "Hey Frank" is incredibly common and incorrect.

     

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