Usage and Grammar

Q. I usually put a comma in the opening salutation of an email—“Hi, Megan”—and this always pleases Megan, a journalist, who believes email salutations should follow the rules of dialogue punctuation. But when I write to Ruth, a physical therapist, I revert to “Hi Ruth,” honoring Ruth’s opinion that a comma after “Hi” in an email looks nerdy. Are Megan and I correct? Is Ruth on to something? Valuing my friendship with each, should I continue to respect the opinions of both?

A. Your question sent the team here into a dithering frenzy. After several meetings and polls, however, the decision is in: you and Megan are a good match, but you should probably let your friendship with Ruth fade. (The punctuation, for emailing purposes, is moot.)