Where Does The Comma Go?
A Guide For The Perplexed
||Put a comma after an introductory element.
||Something comes before the subject (other than adjectives)
||Put a comma after what comes before the subject and its adjectives.
Examples of Introductory Elements After Phrases
- From what I heard, the mail strike will continue.
- Built to withstand earthquakes, the old house merely shook.
- Seeing the damage, he made out an assessment report.
NB: For short prepositional phrases, you can drop the comma:
- In Toronto the Jays play at SkyDome.
Examples of Introductory Elements After Dependent Clauses
- If you build it, he will come.
- When we saw the building, we knew it had to come down.
- Since you've asked, I'll tell you.
Examples of Introductory Elements After Single Words (Direct Address,
- Yes, this is only solution.
- Sam, please fix the fan.
- Well, if you ask me my opinion...
Examples of Introductory Elements After Words That Create Ambiguity:
- Poor: Above the sun shone brilliantly.
- Better: Above, the sun shone brilliantly.
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©Arnold Keller, 1996
This page updated on November 14, 1996.