Monday, May 01, 2017

introductory word, phrase, or clause

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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