Learn English – Commas, Subject and Verb in Imperative Sentence


In this sentence, the speaker is issuing Ian a command:

"Ian, set course for Mars Station."

This violates the rule about separating a noun from its verb with a comma. However, written:

"Ian set course for Mars Station."

it does not sound like a command to my ear, but like a statement of fact.

Is it incorrect to use a comma in this instance? If so, how can I prevent the sentence from reading like a statement rather than a command?

Best Answer

Keep the comma, because removing it actually makes it a statement.

Ian set course for Mars Station.

The above notifies the reader of the past actions of Ian.

Ian, set course for Mars Station.

Here, the speaker is telling Ian to set course for MS. Imperative sentences often appear to be missing subjects and use a verb to begin the sentence. In fact, the subject is the person listening, or the audience. Here, Ian is the person listening and rest of the part is the command given to him, that is, an actual imperative sentence. The subject-verb-seperation rule needs not be applied in every case.