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How To Use Commas After Introductory Phrases

Using commas after introductory phrases or other words. When you’re considering whether or not to put a comma after a word in the beginning of a sentence, there are a few rules to keep in mind. Commas exist to indicate a natural pause in a sentence and to avoid sentence confusion. In many cases it is the writer’s choice whether or not to use a comma. Here are a few guidelines to follow.

DO use a comma:

–After introductory exclamatories and after expressions of affirmation or negation.

Well, it’s about time. Oh, you shouldn’t have! Yes, I’d love to.

–After an introductory clause.

As I told you, the principal won’t be back until Monday.

–After an introductory prepositional phrase of more than four words.

After driving for more than eight fun-filled hours, we finally arrived at the motel.

–After an introductory verbal phrase, appositive phrase, or absolute phrase.

Having formed an instant bond, the boy and the puppy quickly became inseparable.

In order to give a good estimate, the plumber spent over an hour investigating the leaky pipes.

A lawyer from Texas, John Stetson is an expert in copyright law.

–After introductory transitional words.

However, I never said I would actually attend the party.

Of course, I wasn’t actually invited…

Do not use a comma when a gerund or an infinitive is used as a subject.

Watering the lawn is a good way to attract birds.

To tackle the subject without any research would be foolish.

Who Has The Final Say About Using Commas?

As with many elements of creative writing, comma usage generates much debate. Many experts recommend separating all introductory elements with a comma. It makes for a natural break or pause, and it contributes to better comprehension.

Others argue that if the sentence is clear without the comma, and the introductory element is short, the comma is unnecessary; ultimately, it comes down to personal preference and what works best for the reader.

If you’re not sure when your commas are necessary and when you can delete them, the Writer’s Relief proofreading team can help you! We’re here to make sure literary agents and editors see a clean, impressive copy of your work by formatting your writing to meet industry standards—including comma issues!

One Response to How To Use Commas After Introductory Phrases

  1. Just stopped by for a little review on commas and introductory prepositional phrases. I am of the opinion that is is style and comprehension that should dictate usage, but this is English and comprehension sometimes has little to do with it.

    Again, thanks for the refresher. Good site. Good grammar never goes out of style.

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