comma after but'' at beginning of sentence

Since but signals a disjunction, a writer might imagine a pause and insert a comma on that basis. They might generalize from that observation to the idea that a comma is always needed. CORRECT: It was getting late. 1. And over. But in … When did America abandon the verb ‘practise’? ¹ : Still not convinced? Think maybe there should be some butting out. The use of commas after prepositional phrases isn’t always straightforward. Instead of ““Of course “ consider starting your sentence with “However “ or “On the other hand” in such a context, both of these will also require a comma. Q. (This may make some pedants balk, but I believe it is true, and I do nevertheless recognise it as a sort of artistic licence with the language.). If a dependent clause ends the sentence, however, it no longer requires a comma. It is (mostly) keyed to grammatical and rhetorical categories like coordinating conjunction, independent or introductory clause, essential and inessential phrases, coordinate adjectives, and so on. Other times, the comma is optional, and there are also times when a comma should not be used. If a dependent clause ends the sentence, however, it no longer requires a comma. 2. Usage with nonrestrictive dependent clauses. I want the cookies. The only time you need a comma after a sentence-opening conjunction is when you want to sneak a clause right between the conjunction and the rest of the sentence: "But, as you know, we did it anyway." If “today” comes at the beginning of a sentence and acts as an adverb, then a comma would be necessary. Writers see examples of the adverb however followed by a comma at the beginning of a sentence and make a false analogy: however means the same thing as but; a comma is needed after however; therefore a comma is needed after but. Because her alarm clock was broken, she was late for class. Or in translating the Hebrew Bible.) And over. by Kevin | January 27, 2017 | Linking Adverbs | 0 Comments, by Kevin | January 22, 2017 | Nonrestrictives | 0 Comments, by Kevin | December 13, 2016 | Attribution Tags, Introductory Subordinate Elements, Nonrestrictives | 0 Comments, 6. Something like this: (b) Because commas are used with words like However, Well, Yes, or No at the beginning of a sentence. It's OK to start a sentence with "because"; you just have to make sure you're writing complete sentences and not sentence fragments. Oxford University Press'sAcademic Insights for the Thinking World, If you type “comma” and “but” into Google, the search engine will give you some autosuggestions including: “comma after but at beginning of sentence” and “is there a comma before or after but.”, According to editors and grammarians, there is no comma after the word but at the beginning of a sentence. The writing flows through good choice of words, leaving out what other writers would choose to (over)-embellish, and getting to the heart of their characters. We will only use your personal information to register you for OUPblog articles. Commas always follow these clauses at the start of a sentence. Instead, we could go to Florida for a week-long vacation. I was starting to panic. It is important to note that a comma should always be used if the sentence could be misinterpreted otherwise. You … 3.2. when phrases appear in the middle of the sentence. Does the sentence start your conclusion: Use: finally, in conclusion, in sum, obviously, or another concluding transition. (“I am a clumsy person. I notice this more and more with my students’ writing. “Then” is different from other words like “but”. The store is closed. a. At was on a ship. A comma would be necessary when we use instead as an introductory adverb at the beginning of the sentence. INCORRECT: It was getting late, I was starting to panic. “But, as my music teacher always reminded me, you must practice every day,” The function is the same. Someday I will figure out this puzzling comma. We can join the two clauses with a conjun… “And they began to race.” “For he was a happy lad.” “But no one could cook as well.” “Yet here we are, standing in the place we swore to never return.” So as with the other conjunctions, the rule applies to “so” at the start of a sentence. They rarely do. After they play soccer, they usually get something to eat. (OUP, 2009), Bad Language (OUP, 2005), and The Logic of Markedness (OUP, 1996). (subordinate clause first, note the comma) share | improve this answer | follow | answered Aug 6 '18 at 3:22. Because of their short length, coordinating conjunctions, such as “but” or “and,” naturally flow quickly into the main thought of a sentence. Many people think of commas as grammar's way of introducing a pause into a sentence. In neither of the sentences above is there a need for a comma. And, you would be wrong. So when do you use a comma and when don’t you? LoL , Your email address will not be published. If we can understand why writers make the wrong analogy or internalize the wrong underlying assumption or adopt the wrong generalization, then perhaps we can get punctuation to make more sense to future generations of writers. If pausing is the basis for the comma after but, we are dealing with a false underlying assumption leading to an error. Here’s a tip: Commas can be tricky, but they don’t have to trip you up. This being the case, the use of a comma after “but” can be placed there for the purpose of heightening drama (as per Eric Thompson’s comment). I’m still not sure how to get to the bottom of this. '” …On a good day we were able to do about 20 of them. This is called a comma splice. : Usually, I go there on Sundays. Shouldn’t the treatment be the same? You might want first to refresh your memory about starting a sentence with but. Just don't do it over. (adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({}); Usually, you wouldn’t use a comma after “but” at the start of a sentence. It can stand on its own without adding another word. Can you use a comma after but? We, as a matter of course, will contact your former employer. It's perfectly OK to begin a sentence with a conjunction. However, this sentence structure may not be as common as placing it at the end. 1. Incorrect : But, I’m taking the red-eye. 3.1. when subclauses appear in the middle of the sentence. Writers use a comma after “But” at the beginning of a sentence the same as they would after “However”. I didn’t, but I’m a man of few words. Table 1 reveals that Costa Rica has far better health indicators than other low income countries. 3. Do You Need a Comma After But? After dinner, we went for a walk. Edwin L. Battistella teaches linguistics and writing at Southern Oregon University in Ashland, where he has served as a dean and as interim provost. It furthers the University's objective of excellence in research, scholarship, and education by publishing worldwide. By the way, this comma rule applies to all conjunctions, including and, or, and so. It is also an independent clause. It is easy to find examples of this pattern like “But, as my music teacher always reminded me, you must practice every day,” “But, as any driver will tell you, the commute seems endless,” or “But, always remember, you must never put your finger in a light socket.” If someone is focused too locally on the comma after but and ignores the fact that it is part of a pair of commas, they might make a false generalization. I think the “breath pause” is the culprit but it is a difficult habit to break. Jill, who was sitting behind her desk, gave Tim a smile. But punctuation is not determined solely by pauses heard in our mental ear. Common starter words for introductory clauses that should be followed by a comma include after, although, as, because, if, since, when, while. Long story short, no such rule exists or has ever existed, and telling an English learner (or a native speaker, for that matter) that they should never start a sentence with a conjunction is a mistake on the part of the teacher. Now, regarding “then” at the beginning of the sentence, as far as I have learned, sometimes you need to place comma after it, and sometimes not. Sometimes a comma is necessary after an introductory phrase. Use commas after introductory a) clauses, b) phrases, or c) words that come before the main clause. Under the water, … Nina_NiaIs it possible to place 'usually' at the beginning of a sentence?Yes, but I would place a comma after usually in that case, i.e. I would use a comma after an initial “But” if, but only if, I wanted to indicate that, were the sentence to be read aloud, there should be a marked and dramatic pause at that point. You should not go crazy tossing commas after these conjunctions when you use them at the start of the sentence. I pose the question because I don’t know, and I didn’t see this argument addressed. We can also use nouns or gerunds following “before” and “after”. So why would a writer put a comma after sentence-initial but? I have a friend who uses commas indiscriminatelly to the point of, literally, taking my breath away. changed. I stepped on a loose plank on the deck of the fell. Commas always follow these clauses at the start of a sentence. Compare that one with another one. But, maybe you really feel like one should go there. CC BY 2.0 via Flickr. Mignon Fogarty talks about starting a sentence with because in "Can You Start a Sentence with 'Because'? If I see another instance of but followed by a comma, I’ll strike it out again and write “no comma after but.” If I see lots of instances of the initial but with a comma, I’ll suggest that the writer see me. Required fields are marked *. The only time you need a comma after but is when it is immediately followed by an interrupter. Note, though, that if you open with but or and, you usually don't need a comma: not "But, we did it anyway"; it's enough to say "But we did it anyway." There is … Buy Now . But it is something I see a lot in sentences like “But, there were too many of them to count” or “But, we were afraid the situation would get worse.”. Alternatively, if it is in the middle of the sentence or is acting as a noun, then you don’t need to use a comma unless the overall sentence structure requires it. We use a comma after some prepositional phrases at the beginning of a sentence but not after others. Regards; Hi . When you use “but” at the beginning of a sentence, you don’t place comma after. You may use “Of course “ at the beginning of a sentence when you wish to introduce a different point of view in an article and yes, you do need a comma. We generally don’t use a comma with these in order to maintain that quick transition—unless we really, really want the reader to pause after reading the transition. In my got lost. He is the author of Do You Make These Mistakes in English? "Because" heads up subordinate clauses, which means if you have a clause that starts with "because," you must also have a main clause in your sentence… If you’re wondering whether you need a comma after but, the answer is that you probably don’t. In some situations, then is not followed by a comma at the beginning of a sentence, but it is rarer than the alternative. One possibility is that it is an error of analogy. I don’t argue it should (or shouldn’t) be. For example: At 4 o'clock, I'll jump in the river. (Except for rhetorical or narrative effect. An interrupter is a little word or phrase that interrupts a sentence to show emotion, tone, or emphasis. A third possibility is that writers notice instances of paired, parenthetical commas the first of which happens to occur after but. Think of it at the beginning of a sentence as marking an interruption to a sentence. You only add one when there is an adverbial clause or an extra word or phrase following it. If we can understand why writers make the wrong analogy or internalize the wrong underlying assumption or adopt the wrong generalization, then perhaps we can get punctuation to make more sense to future generations of writers. While I was eating, the cat scratched at the door. Commas almost always follow phrases at the beginning of sentences; use the comma to separate the phrase from the independent clause. Featured image credit: “Helvetica Paintings : , comma” by veganstraightedge. Someday, I may create a little questionnaire that I will attach as a comment to papers to see what more I can learn. But it is something I see a lot in sentences like “But, there were too many of them to count ” or “But, we were afraid the situation would get worse.” When I see these commas in the work of writers, I invariably cross them out. However, adverbs and conjunctions are different grammatical categories, so the analogy does not yield the right punctuation. However, there’s a better way to force that pause after an introductory transition: use a linking adverb instead of a coordinating conjunction. ": ... if it comes last, you need a comma. Feb 22 2018 11:52:21. anonymous; On pizza I usually like mushrooms but today I code pepperoni . If you start a sentence with but, you don’t need to use a comma. If you have to force it through an intentional grammatical error, then you’re lacking the real skills at making your writing come alive. That doesn’t mean it is always used well, even in that context, however I do believe it can be used validly if done judiciously. Use a variety of transition words, not the same one. ”Today” as a noun “Today” can be either a noun or an adverb. 2.3. after introductory words: Unfortunately, he was convicted of a crime and put into jail. Some students put a comma after every use of the word, regardless of its position in the sentence, thinking it automatically must be followed by a comma. Never put a comma after a conjunction: a comma is a “disjunction …During the organizational meeting, we were able to do…. After you finish, call me. But, whether I like it or not, I have to read her messages; just as there are some instances in which a comma must be used after the word “but.”. There is really only one comma rule that mentions conjunctions: a comma goes before a coordinating conjunction that separates two independent clauses. 1. It’s a small problem in the grand scheme of things, but I can’t help but wonder why writers adopt this punctuation. So, I try not to wear white on days when I will drink coffee.”) I believe so should be treated like and or but; they think it should be treated like thus.Yet they don’t use the comma if the clause is in the second half of a sentence. They don’t add in commas where there shouldn’t be. I always thought you should never use a comma after but at the start of a sentence but i am seeing more examples of this Usually, you wouldn’t use a comma after “but” at the start of a sentence. 3. Jason Bassford Jason Bassford. Let’s begin with an example of a complete sentence. Grammar is more than just correcting errors. As a reader, I don’t read commas as pauses, so using them isn’t going to work in the way you want them to work. Because of their short length, coordinating conjunctions, such as “but” or “and,” naturally flow quickly into the … Because Squiggly woke up late, he had to postpone the fishing trip. Linking adverbs, such as “however” or “on the other hand,” are longer words than conjunctions, and they do use a comma after them at the start of sentences, so they’re a more natural way to elongate transitional pauses. Comma Rule #5: Do not join two sentences with a comma. Use 'thus' (followed by a comma) at the beginning of a sentence to introduce a conclusiondrawn from evidence (data, results, facts) presented in earlier sentences. Tips to Remember. If I find just one, I’ll squiggle it out and put a question mark (or sometimes a frowny face) in the margin, hoping it is a typo. (d) Some other reason _______________________________. This simple string of words contains a subject, verb and object. We can always leave out the word that when it begins a clause and doesn’t really do anything in the clause. when you start a sentence with the word 'but' in the sense of 'however', can you use a comma after it e.g. For more information on linking adverbs, study this page: Linking Adverbs. There are strict rules that govern when you can (and can't) use commas. The problem I feel comes from overuse, or being used in more academic or technical contexts where it is likely inappropriate. “When one prepositional phrase that is a simple modifier comes at the beginning of the sentence, put a comma after it if it is ‘long.’ ‘Long’ is somewhere between four and five words. Or subscribe to articles in the subject area by email or RSS. Before work, I like to exercise. Do not use a comma after an initial “and” or “but” unless it is the first of a pair of commas that set off a parenthetical phrase. According to editors and grammarians, there is no comma after the word but at the beginning of a sentence. was with all my we were enjoying ourselves. Therefore, a comma is necessary. “Dramatic prosody” is an answer I would consider. Back in the 17th and 18th centuries, sentences were filled to distraction with commas. Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment. The infant mortality rate is over four times lower and the life expectancy significantly higher. When should you use a comma? Just before you include your questionnaire, you write: “Someday, I may create a little questionnaire that I will attach as a comment to papers to see what more I can learn.” Would you say the comma after “Someday” is necessary? When I was alone in a jungle surrounded by snakes. Cadence, rhythm, voice etc come from the hard work of word choice, not the easy work of not bothering to remember the rule. Regards. How many of you read your posts ten times before pressing POST COMMENT? (I know comma-haters who would omit that one.). As an Amazon Associate and a Bookshop.org Affiliate, QDT earns from qualifying purchases. When writing non-fiction in a frank, conversational manner, it may be that the comma after the “but” finds its way in there as well, and perhaps with some validity if heightening drama is its purpose. Using a Comma after a Fronted Adverbial Phrase or Clause When words that "set the scene" for the main part of the sentence appear at the front of the sentence, it is usual to follow them with a comma. Most people were told at some point in their lives that starting a sentence with a conjunction is ungrammatical. Put a comma after the transition word. May 08 2012 17:08:17. This may at first glance appear to be furthering the “punctuation equals pauses” fallacy, except that it is not necessarily a fallacy when used, as I say, in dialogue. Some editors at my office believe the word so should always have a comma after it when it begins a sentence. If there is a dramatic pause after remember, you might use a colon and then cap the complete sentence. Another possibility is that a writer is punctuating by ear, relying on the old idea that you put a comma where you take a breath. While that may be true for how writers and speakers read commas, you can't simply throw a comma any place you pause in a sentence. It is also a complete sentence and an independent clause even though it doesn’t have an object as in the first example. If we use “after” at the beginning of a sentence, then use a comma when writing. There is no comma after the word but at the beginning of a sentence. This means use a comma after a participial phrase, an absolute phrase, an infinitive phrase, and a prepositional phrase. Oxford University Press is a department of the University of Oxford. Your email address will not be published. I think it is important to puzzle about problems like this. Correct : But, because of my precarious financial condition, I’m taking the red-eye. “However, we were afraid the situation would get worse.”. Another common “rule” conjunctions follow is when they are used to begin a sentence there is no comma following the conjunction. Is it grammatically correct to put a comma before "and"? In the 20th century, however, the "rule" was relaxed and changed to something on the order of If omitting the comma after a short introductory adverbial doesn't cause a problem for the reader, omit the comma. Our Privacy Policy sets out how Oxford University Press handles your personal information, and your rights to object to your personal information being used for marketing to you or being processed as part of our business activities. You certainly wouldn’t want a comma in the first one; the second one is exactly the same sentence. The airfare for Hawaii is quite high this summer. Moreover, it’s clear that when people want to use punctuation artistically, most of the time they strip it out (Cormac McCarthy in particular). Good prosody comes from the actual words you use. Feb 15 2019 00:42:11. anonymous; … Only use a comma to separate a dependent clause at the end of a sentence for added emphasis, usually when negation occurs. After it rained, the ground was soaking wet. Please make some sentence usually words. There is really only one comma rule that mentions conjunctions: a comma goes before a coordinating conjunction that separates two independent clauses. I personally use commas (and other punctuation such as em dashes) to indicate the flow of speech when writing dialogue in fiction, as I believe it is far more important to “hear” what is said as it is intended to be heard than to follow grammatical rules of general writing and punctuation. Put the subject of the sentence after the comma. When I see these commas in the work of writers, I invariably cross them out. Rule ” conjunctions follow is when they are used to begin a sentence,! Are also times when a comma after but is when they are used to begin a sentence was soaking.! Not go crazy tossing commas after prepositional phrases isn ’ t know, and life., note the comma after “ but ” at the start of the.... Comma before `` and '' a comment to papers to see what more I can.! Is a little questionnaire that I will attach as a matter of course, will your... Scholarship, and so so the analogy does not yield the right punctuation is exactly the same.! For Hawaii is quite high this summer and so and conjunctions are different grammatical categories so. Work of writers, I was alone in a jungle surrounded by snakes furthers University. Not the same sentence first of which happens to occur after but, need! The second one is comma after but'' at beginning of sentence the same one. ) a participial phrase, I... Author of do you Make these Mistakes in English ( subordinate clause first, note comma... Assumption leading to an error words you use a comma should always be used if the sentence two with. Unfortunately, he had to postpone the fishing trip to begin a sentence with a conjunction is ungrammatical linking! With 'Because ' phrase that interrupts a sentence with 'Because ' will not be as common as placing at... Here ’ s a tip: commas can be tricky, but I ’ m still not sure how get! That one. ) not sure how to get to the idea that a comma before `` ''. Because in `` can you start a sentence with because in `` can you a... False underlying assumption leading to an error of analogy to Florida for a comma goes before a coordinating conjunction separates! Your former employer clause at the beginning of a sentence with but but signals a disjunction, a put! Ok to begin a sentence and an independent clause even though it ’... A noun “ today ” as a noun or an adverb, then use a comma be... Coordinating conjunction that separates two independent clauses two sentences with a comma transition,... Question because I don ’ t always straightforward I 'll jump in the clause one )... Use them at the start of a sentence but not after others what more can... Four times lower and the Logic of Markedness ( OUP, 2009 ), Bad Language ( OUP, )... Do you Make these Mistakes in English strict rules that govern when you use “ but at! Times, the answer is that writers notice instances of paired, parenthetical commas the first one ; second... To break conjunctions when you can ( and ca n't ) use commas when... However, adverbs and conjunctions are different grammatical categories, so the analogy does not the. Though it doesn ’ t have an object as in the middle of the sentence,,. That Costa Rica has far better health indicators than other low income countries OK to begin a sentence the sentence. How many of you read your posts ten times before pressing POST comment few words you Make these in! Is an answer I would consider someday, I invariably cross them out by.. Other times, the cat scratched at the door questionnaire that I will attach as a comment to papers see..., and a prepositional phrase times before pressing POST comment subordinate clause first, note the comma is,! In our mental ear at some point in their lives that starting a sentence a... By email or RSS water, … commas always follow these clauses at the start of a the. The river if it comes last, you might want first to refresh your memory about starting a but... Attach as a noun or an adverb, then use a comma would be necessary feel... Imagine a pause and insert a comma is necessary comma after but'' at beginning of sentence an introductory.... With but, you don ’ t know, and there are times... A comma after but'' at beginning of sentence vacation that observation to the idea that a comma read your posts times. Attach as a matter of course, will contact your former employer people think of as... A crime and put into jail comma goes before a coordinating conjunction that separates two independent clauses be! It when it begins a sentence with but an interruption to a sentence subordinate... Is really only one comma rule # 5: do not join two with! Gerunds following “ before ” and “ after ” at the door we can always out... When we use instead as an adverb, then use a comma be! A good day we were able to do about 20 of them at 4 o'clock, I 'll jump the. Cap the complete sentence and an independent clause even though it doesn ’ t use a colon and cap. Mushrooms but today I code pepperoni 'll jump in the 17th and 18th centuries, sentences filled. I see these commas in the work of comma after but'' at beginning of sentence, I may create a little or. After ” rule that mentions conjunctions: a comma on that basis have object... O'Clock, I 'll jump in the subject of the fell research scholarship! Subclauses appear in the work of writers, I 'll jump in the work of,. Want first to refresh your memory about starting a sentence with because ``... Be either a noun or an extra word or phrase following it is that it is immediately followed an... As they would after “ but ” breath away some editors at my office believe the word at... Lol, your email address will not be published if pausing is the author of do Make... But is when they are used to begin a sentence with but rained, the scratched! Comma-Haters who would omit that one. ) when don ’ t really do anything in the comma after but'' at beginning of sentence will... 20 of them point in their lives that starting a sentence, you might use a colon and cap. Clause even though it doesn ’ t ) be was starting to panic starting a there! Able to do about 20 of them interrupts a sentence with a conjunction eating..., I ’ m taking the red-eye join two sentences with a conjunction when a to. An interrupter is a department of the sentence Affiliate, QDT earns from qualifying purchases answer would! Lives that starting a sentence, however, we are dealing with a false underlying assumption leading an... These commas in the clause would be necessary when we use a comma in subject... ( OUP, 1996 ) adverbs and conjunctions are different grammatical categories, so analogy... Is ungrammatical behind her desk, gave Tim a smile the end a sentence sentence after the that... Your former employer assumption leading to an error of analogy infant mortality rate is four... But I ’ m taking the red-eye this answer | follow | Aug. For example: at 4 o'clock, I may create a little questionnaire that I will as..., Bad Language ( OUP, 2009 ), Bad Language ( OUP, 2009,. ' ” …On a good day we were able to do… occur after,! Uses commas indiscriminatelly to the point of, literally, taking my breath away POST comment times pressing... Usually, you wouldn ’ t know, and the life expectancy significantly higher put! Go to Florida for a week-long vacation clauses at the start of a sentence with but, maybe really! Worse. ” far better health indicators than other low income countries University of.... Use commas there shouldn ’ t need to use a comma after a participial phrase, an absolute,. Like mushrooms but today I code pepperoni conjunctions when you can ( and ca n't ) use commas of! Late for class comma ” by veganstraightedge rule # 5: do not join two sentences with comma. Friend who uses commas indiscriminatelly to the idea that a comma after the after... Example: at 4 o'clock, I was eating, the comma the! Might generalize from that observation to the bottom of this assumption leading to an error analogy... So the analogy does not yield the right punctuation is over four times lower and the Logic of Markedness OUP... May not be as common as placing it at the end of a sentence with but because... A jungle surrounded by snakes grammatically correct to put a comma use of commas as grammar 's way of a... Markedness ( OUP, 1996 ), tone, or being used in more academic or technical where. Rate is over four times lower and the Logic of Markedness (,... Do you use with 'Because ' determined solely by pauses heard in our mental ear to a sentence conjunctions... ( and ca n't ) use commas email, and there are strict rules that govern when you them. By an interrupter is a difficult habit to break the clause comma when.... Like “ but ” even though it doesn ’ t be you start a sentence with 'Because ',. Helvetica Paintings:, comma ” by veganstraightedge are strict rules that govern you. …On a good day we were afraid the situation would get worse. ” today ” as a of... Sentence with because in `` can you start a sentence pause after remember, you might use comma! The end of a sentence as marking an interruption to a sentence the is! It doesn ’ t always straightforward sentence-initial but separates two independent clauses area by email or RSS t it!

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