You insert a comma when the two halves of your sentence can stand alone. Yes, there is leeway at times, and you can add or omit commas for clarity, effect, and style choice. For many short introductory elements, you can omit the comma if the meaning is clear. Make sure the sentence beginning with a coordinating conjunction links back to the previous sentence. Martin wanted to compete in the decathlon, even though he had never competed in any field events. In the next example, the comma after yet in the first sentence seems to be required. But sometimes you do. I understand it when I read it, but I can’t seem to keep the information in my brain. But if there’s any chance of confusion, use a comma. First you’ll need two hammers. Moreover, the managers agree. Can you answer some comma questions? And commas after introductory elements point out the break between one element and another, allowing readers to read without hesitating over meaning. Can we begin a sentence with "usually" or "sometimes"? Thanks again, Beth, for your most welcome advice. with spelling problems and I find it very troublesome to tell the reality nevertheless I will certainly For both BrE and AmE, question marks and exclamation points go inside if they’re part of the quoted material and outside if they’re not part of the quoted material. Both are correct.). "She is an inductee in the Podcasting Hall of Fame, and the show is a five-time winner of Best Education Podcast in the Podcast Awards. But if you were using it at the beginning of a sentence as a synonym for “Thus,” I wouldn’t tend to use the comma: “So Caesar proceeded to the Forum…” Jasmine on October 24, 2019 5:40 pm The issue comes in what different people think “so” is, or at least in how they use it. This comma lets the reader know where the introductory word or phrase ends and the main sentence begins. Which of these two sentences are correct and why ? Hi Beth, just to follow up on a similar question. Hi Beth, Looking forward to reading your new book. A conjunction at the beginning of a sentence is perfectly grammatical for most contemporary readers, although it was deprecated by several generations of schoolmarmish stylists. A comma splice occurs when two independent clauses are joined together using only a comma. All rights reserved X, For, it was a mistake right from the start. Put a comma after the transition word. Many are conjunctive adverbs. A red-haired recruit, Darren caught the eyes of the drill sergeant’s daughter. (prepositional phrase), Under the arch he kissed me for the first time. To know which brother is 43, the name Ned is essential. Second, to always carry cash. I’ve read recommendations that say we also have leeway with short infinitive phrases. She wanted the yellow blouse. Sadly, the hurricane wiped out what was left of the town. For example: At 4 o'clock, I'll jump in the river. “Honestly, you should have told me months ago.”. And those rules help readers understand even nuances in our sentences. Some modern writers are now dropping the comma, but I still like it because it indicates a pause. I’ve just been told it is wrong to put a comma after an “introductory time period”, for example: There is some leeway with prepositional phrases. They might not be the best choice. Thank you. I’m grammar-challenged. Mos… For an omniscient narrator? Putting those adverbial modifiers at the beginning of a sentence will tend to draw attention to them, especially if they're followed by a comma, and that can sometimes be a bit intrusive or clumsy, but it can also be effective. Style Weekly's mission is to provide smart, witty and tenacious coverage of Richmond. “For AmE, commas and periods always go inside the quotation marks no matter what the situation.”. Well is an introductory word that a comma should separate from the rest of the sentence. In sentence B, the first comma is correct, but the second well shouldn’t be separated from the rest of the sentence because it’s not an introductory word. However, we were game to try it. The practice definitely couldn’t hurt. In another comment someone mentioned “scare quotes,” which I take to mean are quotes used for emphasis, as opposed to irony, say, or to introduce an unfamiliar word or phrase. Then you’ll need two aspirin. You can use them to begin sentences, but they are connectors; make sure you choose the one that makes sense for what you want to say. I had a beta reader point that out, and I found arguments for both ways. Conversely, if the occasionally was only the start of an introductory phrase then the same rule would have you not put a comma there, but after the rest of that phrase: This is largely due to the many different ways the comma is used. At the same time, I don’t think that any one book will have all your answers. Restrictive material narrows the meaning of the … If you use these words at the beginning of a sentence, put a comma after them. Thank you for reading The Editor's Blog, an Internet resource for fiction writers, freelance editors, and everyone who loves words. This means use a comma after a participial phrase, an absolute phrase, an infinitive phrase, and a prepositional phrase. BrE—He told me that his favorite song was ‘Jumpin’ Blue’, and then he sang a few lines. Two simple but comma rules. Contrary to oft-quoted advice, comma use does not depend upon where you want a pause in a sentence. No comma is necessary. News & Features Actually, most of the time you can skip the comma after an opening coordinating conjunction. Commas almost always follow phrases at the beginning of sentences; use the comma to separate the phrase from the independent clause. (participial phrase), Hands folded in prayer, the priest prayed for the nation. Richmond's alternative for news, arts, culture and opinion ». (short infinitive phrase), Under the flowering rose bushes, the snake slithered into hiding. This is true for other phrases such as oh damn, oh dear, oh my, ah yes, oh well, oh God, and oh yeah. When it comes to commas, I get lost along the way, but I think I’m improving. We give readers the information to make intelligent decisions. I learned something today. The punctuation marks serve to indicate how the sentence is to be read aloud. Yet he can’t even reach the sink. But do include commas after first, second, third, and so forth when they introduce a series of items. a few of the pictures aren’tloading properly. Such quotation marks are used to imply that the words are being used in a way that’s not normal. Also, she writes about how to show (and punctuate) […]. The dependent clauses are introduced by subordinating conjunctions. I think I need a fifth grade intro to grammar book. The term can refer to the quotation marks around slang and around made-up words and to the quotation marks used to show irony. Great post. Note: No comma between oh and boy when they’re operating as one interjection. ~  Except for emphasis or to indicate exclusivity, we typically don’t use commas when a conjunctive adverb falls between the noun and the main verb of the sentence. (Yes, I purposely used a comma after in this sentence three paragraphs back and omitted it in the previous paragraph. I’m not sure wһy but Ӏ think itts a linking But very often no comma is required. Darien, are we talking British English (BrE) or American English (AmE) rules? When should there be a comma when adverbs like well, seemingly, apparently, supposedly, definitely, surely, obviously, conclusively, possibly, indeed, actually, naturally and others start a sentence?. Commas After Prepositional Phrases at the Beginning of a Sentence. Sometimes you simply want a less formal or structured feel. Interjections—words or phrases used to show emotion—can be followed by a comma or an exclamation point. I’m glad that the articles about commas have been helpful. Am I thinking of the same thing as you and the commenter? Thank you once again for a post that I really needed. 1. In this article we’re going to look at comma use near the beginnings of sentences, after introductory elements. The speaker’s oldest brother is still 43. Colons, semicolons, and dashes go outside the quotation marks for both BrE and AmE. In this sentence, the name Ned is nonessential and could be lifted out of the sentence without changing the meaning. But I don't think it's wrong to do so; it's just that it would then give a pause. January 01, 1980 Beth, if we enclose abbreviations that contain periods inside quotation marks, do the commas go inside after the ending period (as exampled below)? It is useful sometimes to imagine saying the sentence out loud, and imagine if a pause is needed after the first phrase. Do you put a comma after If, While, Now, Being when the words are the first word in a sentence? X, Before and/or After Names in Direct Address. The rules here are for specific uses of commas only, so take care not to assume they’ll be valid for all uses of commas. What you might want to do for practice is to write your own sentences—maybe a list of 4 or 5—that match each rule. When an introductory prepositional phrase is very short (less than four words), the comma is usually optional. Consider the below examples of sentences containing properly placed and omitted commas: Short prepositional phrase: Introductory phrases can include: adverbial phrases - Usually… Rule 1. Sometimes reading through the examples is the best way to pick up on punctuation usage and grammar. Using shorthand had a positive impact on my writing because taking dictation taught me to listen and mark all pauses. In general, the longer the prepositional phrase, the more you need the comma. Write often. When should a comma be placed after the adverb that starts the sentence? I’m not really the grammar Nazi type, (for lack of qualification) but I had always thought quotes implied something said by somebody, one way or another. Since Elise knew the answer she raised her hand. It's about putting the words together to touch, to entertain, to move the reader. Wanting to know where we were going, Gina and I lifted the blinds. Still, parentheses stand out. Typically, I see signs that use them in this way: Hot Dogs on sale “today only.”. Commas almost always follow phrases at the beginning of sentences; use the comma to separate the phrase from the independent clause. If meaning is clear and readers couldn’t possibly misread, consider dropping commas from single-word transitions (and even a few multiword transitions). Use a comma after a dependent clause at the beginning of a sentence. So, this is OK? I must be doing something right. and I see it the way I typed it enough that I am always second guessing myself…. Our editorial team strives to reveal Richmond's true identity through unflinching journalism, incisive writing, thoughtful criticism, arresting photography and sophisticated presentation. If the sentence would not require any commas if the parenthetical statement were removed, the sentence should not have any commas when the parentheses are added. Turn the reader's attention where you want it to go. A traditional rule stated that howevermeaning ‘nevertheless’ should not be used at the beginning of a sentence. Patricia, I love being timely. I read, and reread, this post. Yet, and this is crucial, I’d forgotten to pack my pistol. I guess it’s official: I’m a fan of your work. Suddenly isn’t a sentence adverb in the fourth sentence; it actually modifies took off. I go to see each day a few websites and blogs to read articles, but this website provides quality based articles. Thanks for these articles. With fiction, everything is on the table, as long as you’re effectively communicating your story to the reader. Example: My estate goes to my husband, son, daughter-in-law, and nephew. Generally you would not place a comma after the word "Generally" when it's used at the beginning of a sentence, Here, It's an adverb going with the verb "would not place." (a short prepositional phrase, but without a comma, readers might read outside the air as a phrase). Transitional words and phrases at the beginnings of sentences move us from one thought, one sentence, to the next. Roy, the term scare quotes often refers to a handful of uses of quotation marks outside the use of quoting someone, not necessarily to emphasize. Dependent Clauses Before Independent Clauses. Tommy told me he washed and put away the dishes. Furthermore, your current girlfriend and your ex both called. I love your site and your emails. While commas follow most of these transitions, you can skip the commas with single-word adverbs of time. Sighing, Madison began the climb up the six flights of stairs. While I agree that they shouldn’t be used often, I wouldn’t advise a blanket prohibition. You’ll find a handful of articles on comma use for a variety of circumstances. site. I was a secretary for many years. Tips to Remember. You don’t have to include the comma with short prepositional phrases (three words or fewer). Sometimes, the comma indicates a pause that would occur if the sentence were spoken aloud. Regrettably, the whole affair was nothing like I expected and yet everything I feared. “So, regardless of your directives, they ate all the cookies you’d made for the bake sale?”, “So regardless of your directives, they ate all the cookies you’d made for the bake sale?”, “And regardless of your directives, they ate all the cookies?”. (A short story of mine was recently published and won a contest. Because not every adverb at the beginning of a sentence is a sentence adverb, not every adverb at the beginning of a sentence requires a comma. Lou, for American English (AmE), put the comma inside the closing quotation mark. And plot. Somewhere back in the day, teachers must have taught us to include a comma after coordinating conjunctions used at the beginning of sentences, because many of us include them. A number of them are rife The climb was steep. We make sense of the news; pursue those in power; explore the city's arts and culture; open windows on provocative ideas; and help readers know Richmond through its people. so… which is really, truly the right way? Note: Hopefully has gotten a bad rep for being used as a sentence adverb, but many accept its long-time use in this position as legitimate. Example: When I went to the … Tags: adverb, commas, introductory elements     Posted in: Beyond the Basics, Grammar & Punctuation. And if you use an exclamation point, remember to capitalize the first word in the sentence that follows. You have given precise information on the use of commas here and this is a big help for me. If a sentence begins with an introductory phrase or dependent clause, it should have a comma immediately after it. Certain phrases also deserve the comma to assist the reader's understanding: "In any case, without a doubt, in retrospect, looking back, for years now, in the future," etc. For BrE, commas and periods go inside only if they’re part of a quotation—and if we’re talking titles, that means they’re not likely part of the title, so they’d go outside. Use a variety of transition words, not the same one. Thank you! I’ve got a question. INCORRECT: In my office … The reader will focus on what stands out. And yet, as she was quick to remind me, I’d never actually done it. The rules are different. When to Use Commas After Introductory Prepositional Phrases. ~  Transition words such as therefore and indeed are often followed by commas, but they don’t have to be. Other "exception" words usually require the same treatment at the beginning of a sentence: "However, although, nonetheless, regardless, anyway," etc. But still, if you read the sentence aloud, it appears to Rosie that one would pause after saying normally, and a comma should indicate that. on several of your posts. Put the subject of the sentence after the comma. Thank you for this timely article on commas. And I’m glad this article has some tips you can use. Exceptions? A comma comes after an adverb clause only at the beginning of a sentence—not at the end. (CMOS 7.55). For example, one site reminds writers to always put a comma after a transition. Consider commas as a bit of shorthand that communicates information to readers. You’re right that quotation marks shouldn’t be used for emphasis—we typically use italics for that. Catherine, I’d never considered that, that someone would have to determine whether or not the speaker was pausing for breath while dictating. Transitional Words and Phrases—The Writer’s Handbook from the University of Wisconsin Writing Center.