comma after introductory adverb: Yet it does not follow that

rubes1

Senior Member
United States, English
Hello everybody! I am having a big argument with my boss as to the use of the adverb, "yet" at the beginning of a sentence. Ex, "Yet it does not follow that civil society can cure the autocratic ills of their societies." He believes it requires a comma after it & I think it doesn't. He believes it's equivalent to "However," at the beginning of a sentence. I can't find any site that says yet requires a comma after it. I'd appreciate your help!
Thanks;)
 
  • elroy

    Imperfect Mod
    US English/Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    rubes1 said:
    Hello everybody! I am having a big argument with my boss as to the use of the adverb, "yet" at the beginning of a sentence. Ex, "Yet it does not follow that civil society can cure the autocratic ills of their societies." He believes it requires a comma after it & I think it doesn't. He believes it's equivalent to "However," at the beginning of a sentence. I can't find any site that says yet requires a comma after it. I'd appreciate your help!
    Thanks;)
    It is a conjunction and does not require a comma.
     

    MrPedantic

    Senior Member
    UK, English
    I'd agree that the comma is unnecessary.

    Yet, sometimes people do use a comma after initial "Yet", as they do after initial "But" – perhaps to convey the following "thoughtful pause" that we sometimes hear in spoken English. Maybe that's why your colleague imagines there should be a comma.

    MrP
     

    rubes1

    Senior Member
    United States, English
    Thanks Elroy. :) If "yet" is a conjunction though, than that would mean it's not acceptable to start a sentence with it in the first place, just as grammar rules say you can't start a sentence with "but" or "and." But I thought it was simply an adverb, like however when placed at the beginning of a sentence?
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    I agree with you, Elroy and MrP on the comma.
    I thought your post was going to mention an objection to the conjunction at the beginning of a sentence:) Some would object to that. But if used with care, I wouldn't.

    Edit: Sorry MrP - I didn't see your post until I looked back on the thread just now.
     

    rubes1

    Senior Member
    United States, English
    Can we find a grammar rule to back this up? I can't seem to find one surfing on the web.:confused: I don't win the battle unless I prove to my boss that it's a grammar rule.
     

    elroy

    Imperfect Mod
    US English/Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    I hesitated before submitting my post - for the very reason that conjunctions are indeed to be avoided at the beginning of a sentence. However (yet ;)), for some reason "yet" as the first word in a sentence doesn't bother me as much as "but" or "and" (in a formal piece, that is). I wonder why that is. :)

    I don't think it's an adverb, though. It has the same meaning as "but," which I don't think anyone would claim is ever an adverb...
     

    elroy

    Imperfect Mod
    US English/Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    rubes1 said:
    Can we find a grammar rule to back this up? I can't seem to find one surfing on the web.:confused: I don't win the battle unless I prove to my boss that it's a grammar rule.
    Well, it's a conjunction - not an adverb or a transitional word. A comma is not required after an initial "and" or "but," is it? "Yet" falls under that category, along with "or," "nor," and "for."

    Now, you can then argue over whether it's acceptable to begin a sentence with a conjunction - but that's another debate altogether. :)
     

    rubes1

    Senior Member
    United States, English
    Elroy, I checked & when it means "at present," it is an adverb according to the dictionary. However, in my sample sentence that was not the meaning.

    "Yet it does not follow that civil society can cure the autocratic ills of their societies."

    If you have a better suggestion for a word to replace "yet," I'm open. I often use "yet" to replace the word "but" at the beginning of a sentence. I try to avoid saying "however," because usually it means "by contrast" & when people use the word "but" at the beginning of a sentence that is not always what they intend to say, so to avoid changing the nuance of the sentence, I prefer to use "yet" when editing.;)
     

    elroy

    Imperfect Mod
    US English/Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    rubes1 said:
    Elroy, I checked & when it means "at present," it is an adverb according to the dictionary. However, in my sample sentence that was not the meaning.

    "Yet it does not follow that civil society can cure the autocratic ills of their societies."

    If you have a better suggestion for a word to replace "yet," I'm open. I often use "yet" to replace the word "but" at the beginning of a sentence. I try to avoid saying "however," because usually it means "by contrast" & when people use the word "but" at the beginning of a sentence that is not always what they intend to say, so to avoid changing the nuance of the sentence, I prefer to use "yet" when editing.;)
    Correct - thereby retaining the meaning of "but." I'm pretty sure that "yet" is classified as a conjunction, grammatically. Why it doesn't seem egregious to begin a sentence with it, I couldn't tell you. :)

    Consider the case of "for":

    The famous Bible verse is "For God so loved the world..." It's a conjunction there, too, but it doesn't seem odd at the beginning of the sentence. Perhaps there's more leeway with certain conjunctions.

    Replacements? I think "but" is a good one. Whether or not it's grammatically correct to begin the sentence with it, you generally don't place a comma after it.
     

    rubes1

    Senior Member
    United States, English
    While I couldn't find a grammatical rule on one of the grammar sites for "yet" at the beginning of the sentence NOT being followed by a comma, I did see that on one of the sites they wrote a sentence like "Yet students often make that mistake," with no comma following the "yet." So I assume this means that we win!:D
     

    MrPedantic

    Senior Member
    UK, English
    "Yet" when it means "up to the present time" is an adverb:

    1. I haven't seen her yet.

    When it means "however", however, it's a conjunction:

    2. Yet Shakespeare was also an inveterate magpie.

    (Both from random googles.)

    It seems to me that initial "yet" has an air of "making a reasonable appeal to the reader", which you don't find in the more straightforwardly contrastive "however" and "but". So you often find initial "Yet" in academic texts.

    MrP

    PS
    Almost every verse in the King James version of the Bible begins with an And, a But, or a For. They had different superstitions in those days.

     

    MrPedantic

    Senior Member
    UK, English
    Yes; and if we converted every initial "but" in the literary canon to a "however", we would get some very strange results, e.g.
    At my back, however, I always hear
    Time’s winged chariot hurrying near...

    Lo! what light, however, through yonder window breaks?
    MrP
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    I knew I shouldn't have mentioned the conjunction at the beginning of a sentence issue:)

    That "rule" is another of the "Guidelines for learners of English, native and non-native" that are very helpful, but should not be revered as solemn and binding commitments on everyone for ever.
     

    atlasan

    Member
    USA English
    "Yet" does not require a comma when the sentence enjoins a previous sentence, or introduces a sentence in support or continuation of a point being made, or developed.
    EX
    A: "John fought with your brother!"
    B: (contemplating) "Yet he is my friend...."
     

    rubes1

    Senior Member
    United States, English
    Atlasan, so now my boss says, if "yet" is a conjunction & doesn't require a comma when at the beginning of a sentence, then why is "however" always followed by one when at the beginning of a sentence?
     

    atlasan

    Member
    USA English
    Your boss, alas, is wrong. Observe:

    "However John travels to Tel Aviv (!) will be fine with us".
     

    atlasan

    Member
    USA English
    The comma following certain introductory words (as, 'yet' and 'however') represent such an exquisite fine-tuning of meaning or "tone" to the sentence, as to really defy any written formula.

    I think the comma is quite often a preference in shade of meaning, or nuance, that essentially defies definition. Familiarity of usage will teach the "knack" of when to use commas, etc. Attempts to "follow a rule" with these beautiful living overlays would be like putting mechanical wings on butterflies.
     

    atlasan

    Member
    USA English
    Of course....I am at your service. It took me years of teaching English to learn to depart from the rigidity of the rule book, and embrace the fact that every language also has a stratum of nuance where native speakers (perhaps they alone) frolic and play....
     

    MrPedantic

    Senior Member
    UK, English
    atlasan said:
    Your boss, alas, is wrong. Observe:

    "However John travels to Tel Aviv (!) will be fine with us".
    That is a different sense of "however", however:

    1. However John travels to Tel Aviv will be fine by us = Whatever way John travels to Tel Aviv will be fine by us.

    Cf.

    2. However, John travelled to Tel Aviv by canoe; and it wasn't at all fine by them = Nonetheless, John travelled...

    MrP
     

    MrPedantic

    Senior Member
    UK, English
    rubes1 said:
    Atlasan, so now my boss says, if "yet" is a conjunction & doesn't require a comma when at the beginning of a sentence, then why is "however" always followed by one when at the beginning of a sentence?
    You could point out to your colleague that initial "however" in that sense is an adverb, rather than a conjunction.

    In my previous post, for instance, the "however" in #1 modified the verb, and therefore didn't require a comma; but the "however" in #2 modified the whole clause, and therefore did.

    Here's the relevant entry from Merriam Webster:

    ---------------------------------------------------------

    Main Entry: 2however
    Function: adverb
    1 a : in whatever manner or way <shall serve you, sir, truly, however else -- Shakespeare> b : to whatever degree or extent <has done this for however many thousands of years -- Emma Hawkridge>
    2 : in spite of that : on the other hand <still seems possible, however, that conditions will improve> <would like to go; however, I think I'd better not>
    3 : how in the world <however did you manage to do it>

    ---------------------------------------------------------

    MrP
     

    plc9

    Member
    Brazilian portuguese
    Could anybody help me with the meaning of "yet" in this context please :

    "Stage 3 operations are among the best in their market. YET stage 3 operations still aspire to be clearly an unambiguously the very best in the market."
     

    Cagey

    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    Could anybody help me with the meaning of "yet" in this context please :

    "Stage 3 operations are among the best in their market. YET stage 3 operations still aspire to be clearly an unambiguously the very best in the market."
    "Yet" here is being used to introduce an idea that may seem to contradict or contrast with that in the previous sentence. It is the approximate equivalent of "however", the use discussed above.

    Stage 3 operations are among the best in the market. However (even though they are one of the best) they still try to be the very best.
     
    Last edited:

    robotmonster

    New Member
    English-USA
    The word HOWEVER is a conjunctive adverb. It received a semi-colon before and a comma after if it is joining two independent clauses. If not joining clauses, it is treated as an adverb and may or not need a comma depending on what it modifies and where it falls in the sentence.

    Yet is a conjuction. A comma will only follow a conjunction if there is something else following it that requires a comma pairing.

    A sentence can begin with BUT and AND or any other coordinating conjuction (for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so) and as long as the sentence contains a subject and verb it is a complete sentence. It can also begin with a normal conjunction provided that it initiates a dependent clause which is followed by an independent clause which is separated by a comma.
     
    < Previous | Next >
    Top