Easy Learning English

The vocative - Easy Learning Grammar

The imperative is often used with a vocative. This is where you mention a person’s name or some other way of identifying the person to whom a command or request is being addressed.
  • David, come here!
  • Come here, David.
  • Hey, you, stop talking!
The vocative can be a proper noun, the pronoun you, or a noun phrase. The vocative can come before or after the main clause.A vocative forms a part of many questions.
  • Peter, do you know where I put the DVD?
  • Have you seen Chris recently, Jenny?
A vocative is also combined with an interrogative clause to form a request.
  • Tony, would you pass me the hammer?
  • Could I speak to you privately for a minute, Sue?
When a vocative is used with an imperative clause, the sentence is usually a command.
  • Sam, get off there!
  • You, come back!
A command can also be phrased as a request.
  • Would you stop talking now, darling, and go to sleep.
  • Would you get off there, please, Sam.
A practical reason for using a vocative is to supply the missing but understood subject, so that the right person will understand the command or request, and act on it.
Note the punctuation. There should be a comma between the vocative part of the clause and the remainder.
As part of a command, except for urgent warnings, the use of the vocative is considered rude or abrupt.

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