I was recently involved in a debate about comma use on an invitation for a birthday party. I lost the debate because it was two English majors against one.

The following is what they said was correct:

"No gifts, please."

"Children are invited, too!"

I was absolutely sure that a comma was not necessary in these two phrases. They insisted that the commas were essential. I still question this. It is bugging me so much I had to do a search for correct use of commas so I could ask this question to SOMEBODY!
1 2
Hello Anon

For #1, I would myself use a comma, unless I intended a particularly abrupt or tart tone:

1. No gifts please!

For #2, I'd say it depended on the intonation:

2a. The performance is intended for adults, but children are invited too.

— no pause before "too".

2b. "That's very strange. Have you seen the note from Esmé about the party on Thursday night? Children are invited, too." "Well, count me out, then."

— pause and downward intonation, before "too".

That said, I'm sure other members will disagree with me, so you may still get the advantage of those English majors. (Though sometimes there's no arguing with military types, especially English ones.)

Now that I've created a user account, I'm no longer anon. I was the original poster of this question.

You basically answered my question that the commas aren't absolutely necessary, but can be used. My argument was that they are not necessary.

For number two, the situation in question fell under the category you listed as 2a, and therefore did not need a comma.

For number one, since we do not know the author's intent based on just reading the invitation, we do not know if a tart or abrupt tone was intended. Therefore, the other two English majors cannot insist that a comma was absolutely necessary because they did not know the author's intent either. I, for one, tend to believe that when you are insisting no gifts are necessary, then you are taking an insistent tone, which could fall under the category you mentioned, and a comma would not be necessary. Does that make sense?
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Welcome to English Forums (in your new guise), Recentgrad!

Yes, I'd agree that the comma isn't absolutely necessary in either example. The comma can be used for the convenience of the eye (to denote a break in the sense), the ear (to denote intonation), or the lungs (to denote a pause). So much depends on the intentions of the writer.

(I'm surprised no one else has expressed a view. I've seen threads rage back and forth over a comma for days in this forum, before now.)

MrPedantic(I'm surprised no one else has expressed a view. I've seen threads rage back and forth over a comma for days in this forum, before now.)


Oh, but Mr. P., when you cover the topic so thoroughly, what else can someone say? I think it's silly when people chime in after an experts and say "me too." But since I'm in a silly mood today - me too!
Thank you, GG! I'm never quite sure if I'm burbling hopelessly, so a "me too" is always welcome.

(Though I'm not averse to a "Poppycock!" either, if there are any comma-haters out there.)

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I don't think the commas are necessary. But their presence is ok too.

Commas in English can be used two ways: rhetorical (to signal where the speaker should pause) and grammatical (to separate clauses or phrases). Originally all English punctuation was rhetorical, but nowadays grammatical punctuation is more in fashion.

Anyway what's my point? I think my point is that there are no absolutely correct or incorrect uses of the comma most of the time. The presence or absense of a comma can change the meaning of a sentence sometimes, but a lot of the time their use is up to the taste of the writer.

Please answer a question for me. Actually, it is triggered by your greeting to Anon. Although it is rarely done, shouldn't you have addressed him in the following manner?

Hello, Anon.

My question pertains to the use of the comma and the period.

Thanks for your time,

Hello Sean

In British English, which is my dialect, there's no requirement to use the comma and period in a salutation. You can style a letter as follows, if you wish:
Dear Tony

Please return both copies of the contract by first thing tomorrow, signed and dated, as agreed during our discussions earlier today.

Yours sincerely

(I also prefer the commaless stopless version, because the comma suggests a pause to me, and the full stop a longer pause. But if I said "Hello Anon", I wouldn't pause. But that said, your styling looks fine to me too.)

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