Writers are divided in opinion about punctuating introduce words or phrases—and often, they room at war with themselves through the topic. Even adherents of open punctuation will usually insert a comma ~ an adverb, even if it is it is transitional, prefer however, or descriptive, like suddenly, and will follow even a brief modifying expression such as “according to the study” or “contrary to famous belief” v pausing punctuation.

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But somewhere in between—in the instance of a quick opening expression like “last year” or “in retrospect”—many people think a comma setup the phrase off indigenous the sentence’s key clause is unnecessary. Because that consistency, i advocate usually using a comma nevertheless of the phrase’s length, but even though i am a close-punctuation adherent, i realize there space exceptions.

Consider the usage of please, for example. Review this sentence: “Please sit down.” Now, read this one. “Please, sit down.” walk you review them differently? i hope so. The will behind each statement is distinct: “Please sit down” is an imperative barely tempered by a courtesy term; the person to who the explain is ceded is supposed to comply. Through contrast, “Please, sit down” is one entreaty; the speak sincerely wishes that the other human being will expropriate the invitation.

There’s a difference, too, in between “Of food you would certainly say every little thing you believed I want to hear” and also “Of course, you would say every little thing you believed I want to hear.” The first sentence is ceded with part heat; the speaker’s ton is wounded and also derisive. The 2nd statement, through contrast, is more measured and also reflective.

These instances are more subtle than once one decides whether one have to punctuate, for example, “In time you will know why ns acted together I did”: You one of two people agree v me the if one is come punctuate a more extensive introductory phrase (“When you have time to reflect, you will understand why ns acted together I did”)—and most writers will select to do so—it’s only logical come treat a much more concise opening phrase the same means (otherwise, whereby does one draw the line?), or you nothing agree. Yet sometimes, what a sentence communicates alters with the mere insertion or omission of a comma, and also the writer have to be sensitive to together nuances to aid the leader read between the lines.

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4 Responses come “A Comma (or the Absence) Can readjust a Sentence’s Message”

venqaxon august 04, 2016 2:54 pm

I understand your points about the differences in connotation between versions of “Please sit down” and “Please, sit down.” However, I thought things favor “however” being necessarily followed by a comma were “black-letter law” when it concerned grammar. Execute some to speak otherwise?

Thebluebird11on respectable 04, 2016 11:40 pm


venqax: I’m not sure if I have actually any personal hard and fast rules about this topic, yet with words “however,” ns think there room times it absolutely needs a comma ~ it, and also times it certainly doesn’t. This is since sometimes the word method “in any which way,” as in, “However you resolve the trouble is fine v me.” This instance is not confusing, yet I imagine that with some much more thought, i (or you) could come up through sentences in which a comma is absolutely (or definitely NOT) referred to as for after the word “however,” to protect against confusion. Actually I had this head-butting with a supervisor in ~ my vault job, where I walk editing, and also I edited someone’s work, i think ns took the comma out after a “however,” (because the the intended definition of the word), however she acquired upset and told me i was wrong because she stated you constantly put a comma after “however. ” it hardly payment to try to factor with a donkey, so i think ns emailed her a connect to one more DWT post on this subject and let it go at that.

venqaxon august 06, 2016 1:41 pm

True, ns guess i was as well broad. When I claimed “always” ns was only referring to as soon as the native “however” is offered transitionally, e.g., “However, don’t take my word for it.” the comma, AFAIK, is not optional. I wasn’t implying that a final comma is component of the assignment of the word so would certainly be compelled in all cases where words itself is used. “Do it however you want”, “Let’s put the word yet in our list of H words.” etc.

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Oliver Lawrenceon august 17, 2016 3:56 am

I normally prefer to include the comma there. However sometimes, omitting it can aid the effect you’re trying to create. E.g. In “Suddenly he…”, you can convey a higher sense of pace and urgency without the comma.