Oh, my, Another Comma Rule
by Cherie Tucker
Iíve noticed in things Iíve been editing lately that
many people donít know about Oh. When you begin a sentence
with it, it must be followed by a comma.
Oh, I forgot to lock the door.
Oh, here it is.
Oh, well, we can catch the next ferry.
An exclamation point will do if it really is an exclamation, but
exclamation or not, there must be a punctuation mark following Oh
at the sentenceís beginning.
Oh, my, how youíve changed!
Oh! My, how youíve changed.
If oh appears later in the sentence, it must be set off by
commas, as it serves to interrupt.
I need about, oh, three yards of that.
The party? It was, oh, fine, I guess.
There is also an O without the h as well. It is used
in direct address and is not followed by a comma.
O death, where is thy sting?
They changed the words to ďO CanadaĒ some years ago.
If you are praying or swearing, there are also rules. A prayer,
especially an urgent one, would be written
O God, I need your help.
O Lord, protect my family.
On the other hand, if you are blaspheming, it goes like this: with
a comma if you want a pause, without if not.
Oh, God, not another bill.
Oh God, your motherís on the phone again.
And if you have to write out OMG when youíre not praying or
Oh my God, I think thatís my wife.
Cherie Tucker, owner of GrammarWorks, has taught writing basics to
professionals since 1987, presenting at the PNWA conference.
She currently teaches Practical Grammar for Editors at the
University of Washingtonís Editing Certification program and edits