comma with introductory adverb: hence, still, then, thus

Discussion in 'English Only' started by udoh, Jun 12, 2010.

  1. udoh Member

    German - Germany
    I learned that commas are used after introductory words.
    However, on the following website the author says that no comma is used after the introductory words hence, thus, then and still.

    Can someone explain this? Or are there other opinions on this?
    Other sources do not mention this exception.
  2. duoyu Senior Member

    English- US, Spanish- Puerto Rico
    I read the article, and it says that "no comma is necessary," which is not the same thing as saying that no comma is used.

    When beginning a sentence, I would use a comma after hence, thus, and still, because there is a pause after these words (when spoken, of course). In fact, this is the advice given by Purdue's Online Writing Lab (OWL):

    When you would pronounce a pause after the introductory word, then use a comma; if not, then don't use a comma.

    Ultimately, punctuation is more of a convention, a set of agreed upon rules, than some absolute law, so you are bound to find people who hold different views on one or another rule.
  3. udoh Member

    German - Germany
    << Threads merged by moderator. >>

    I learned that usually one uses a comma after introductory words.

    But let me quote from this website:

    Is this really an exception? Can one optimally use a comma with these introductory words? Is there any general rule?
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 14, 2013
  4. entangledbank

    entangledbank Senior Member

    English - South-East England
    No, there is no general rule. A comma is never required. However, I would make an exception of 'however': in this sense, I think it needs one after it. Nevertheless no other word particularly needs a comma. Moreover those lists of words that some people claim do, are inaccurate and misleading; they don't reflect real English usage. At best they reflect what someone (such as the Chicago style manual) has chosen to do and recommend in their own printing.
  5. MuttQuad

    MuttQuad Senior Member

    New York, NY
    English - AmE
    At least in American usage, omitting that comma looks peculiar. It is a comma that signifies a pause and is a help to the reader. Like many comma usages, it is not by rule but by literary choice. Thus, I would almost always place a comma following such words as nevertheless, however, thus, hence, etc., when they begin a sentence.
  6. e2efour Senior Member

    England (aged 75)
    UK English
    I think that writing commas to signify pauses is a dangerous practice. The problem is that if you do this, you can get sentences that look strange.

    I see no real justification for inserting a comma after any of these words, except perhaps for "however", which has two meanings: 1) on the other hand and 2) phrases like "however hard you try....". Using a comma is a convention and we often just carry on doing it because we're used to it.

    One example which I always find strange is (the largely American practice) of putting a comma after years. For example, "In 1923, he visited Mexico." What reason can there be for putting a comma here.?
  7. Copyright

    Copyright Senior Member

    American English
    I think you have to be careful about hard and fast rules either way. I would want a comma after this "still":
    You've already eaten two full English breakfasts. Still, I can make another if you haven't had enough.
  8. MuttQuad

    MuttQuad Senior Member

    New York, NY
    English - AmE
    Perhaps the American and British views differ on this. As a frequently published author and a sometimes editor, I prefer the commas.
  9. panjandrum

    panjandrum Occasional Moderator

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    It depends on whether the introductory word is simply introducing (comma not required) or modifying the entire sentence (comma required).

    Still, I can make another if you haven't had enough.
    Still the storm raged on as they sheltered under the stairs.
  10. udoh Member

    German - Germany
    In some examples that you mentioned these "introductory words" are not really introductory words, but as modifier and so in this function they obviously do not need a comma (and putting one would probably be incorrect). I just referred to these words used as introductory words.

    You mentioned already examples with "still" and "however". Can the other words mentioned at this website (i.e. hence, thus and then) also be used as modifier? I cannot think of any examples right now. But this would explain why the author would make an exception for them (although he should probably only make it when the usage is as a modifier).

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