Friday, April 28, 2017

Introductory clauses and long phrases

An introductory word (Unfortunately), phrase (Before the party), or clause (If you can join us) sets the stage for the sentence. Introductory clauses and long phrases must always be followed by a comma, while single words and short phrases may or may not. Use a comma when the phrase is a verbal phrase (Running away), a non-essential appositive, or an absolute phrase (The audience waiting). Also use a comma when a pause is necessary or the lack of a comma will cause confusion.


Incorrect Prior to the scandal the governor’s approval rating was high.
Correct Prior to the scandal, the governor’s approval rating was high.

Incorrect At the end of the day money is just money.
Correct At the end of the day, money is just money.

A writer may use discretion to determine whether a comma is needed. Here is an example which creates a subtle difference.

Correct Of course I am happy.
Correct Of course, I am happy.

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