Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Introductory Comma Rule

There is no way I would ever attempt to do a post on all the ways you can use a comma. Comma’s have a great deal of rules attached to their usage, and you use them in a wide variety of places. But, I do want cover them, so I plan on picking specific instances of when and where you use certain types of commas.

The comma I chose to focus on this week is the Introductory Comma. Now, I want to put out a disclaimer here. I’m not a comma guru. I have a safe base when it comes to grammar, and I use a great deal of credible resources when looking up these rules, but I’m also human. If any of you want to chime in on things I might have left out in any given segment, or you feel my interpretation is off on the subject, by all means, chime in.

So, with the necessaries taken care of, let’s get started.

Introductory Comma
The rule is this: you can use a comma to separate a long introductory dependent clause, subordinate clause, or introductory words (words like, “well,” “therefore,” “yes,” “however,” and “moreover”) from the rest of the sentence.


After recording the baseball game and showing it to my friend, we decided to follow another team.

Recording and transcribing the audio seminar, I learned that I didn’t like working with their company.

Yes, I would love to purchase that 1981 DeLorean.

These are the three main time you would use a comma in an introductory statement or phrase, that’s the basic rule.

But, here’s the kicker. These commas have extra little rules that they carry along secretively behind them, waiting to catch you unawares. They’re like tonberries from the Final Fantasy series.
For example, did you know that if a dependent clause is short and it designates time, you may omit the comma if the sentence still reads clear enough without it? Another rule I’ve read is that you should only use a comma to set off adverbial prepositional phrases of around six or more words; but, that it is acceptable to use a comma in those phrases shorter than six words if you think the reader should pause at that spot. You don’t want to overload your sentence with commas, but if it makes it more readable, then, well, most credible spokesmen/women on the matter say to go with what’s more readable.

I know I used some other grammar words in this post in order to explain this rule; hopefully I’ll get to those uglier terms later, but I want to keep these explanations as short as possible. Feel free to just Google those terms for now. Perhaps I’ll even start linking those terms we haven’t gone over to other sites until I’ve discussed them here.

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