JS Tip 312: Commas III

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** From the Writing Workshops: Commas III

We’re still discussing commas.

Principle Three: Use a comma to separate an introductory passage from the main part of the sentence:

Three days after we completed the project, a storm wiped out the access road.

The introductory passage: “Three days after we completed the project.”

The main part of the sentence: “A storm wiped out the access road.”

Setting off introductory words, phrases, or clauses with a comma lets the reader know that the main subject and main verb of the sentence come later.

There are three kinds of introductory passages: small, medium, and large. No matter what size they are, an introductory passage cannot stand alone as a complete thought. It simply introduces the main subject and verb.

Introductory passsages can be short (one word):

First, we did a weather study.

Medium (two, three, or four words):

In that study, we learned the area hadn’t had a major storm in five years.

Or long (more than four words):

Despite what we had learned in the study, the storm still came.

Some references suggest dropping the comma with short introductory passages. We say balogna. Baloney.

Let us know your questions. Seriously. We love this stuff.

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