comma with 'obviously' [adverb, front position]; there are <a> very

Oros

Senior Member
Korean
There are very few people in this country who could live without the Internet and email contacts. Obviously, many pensioners don't know about the Internet and email.

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Is the above correct? You would write 'There are a very few people in this country ....


Is the comma is mandatory after the word 'Obviously'?



I would like to read your comments.
 
  • maxiogee

    Banned
    English
    Oros said:
    There are very few people in this country who could live without the Internet and email contacts. Obviously, many pensioners don't know about the Internet and email.

    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Is the above correct? You would write 'There are a very few people in this country ....

    Is the comma is mandatory after the word 'Obviously'?

    Firstly, I would be almost certain that there are few British English speakers who would say "a very few". This would be because most people would see "very few" as being more concise than "a few".
    If you would consider 100 to be "a few", then 20 would be "very few".

    I don't know about the comma being 'mandatory', but I'd use it to be sure that "Obviously" stands out.
     

    pjay

    Member
    German Germany
    Well the comma rule is this. If it's a long adverbial you put a comma. Here you have a short adverbial, so it's optional.
     

    mjscott

    Senior Member
    American English
    Oros said:
    There are very few people in this country who could live without the Internet and email contacts. Obviously, many pensioners don't know about the Internet and email.

    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Is the above correct? You would write 'There are a very few people in this country ....


    Is the comma is mandatory after the word 'Obviously'?



    I would like to read your comments.

    I believe it is a parenthetical. At the beginning of the sentence it is not mandatory to have a comma. If you were to rearrange the sentence, however (however is another parenthetical), you would need commas.

    Example:
    Many pensioners, obviously, don't know about the Internet and e-mail.

    BIG PROBLEM:
    In the above sentence, obviously can also be used as an adverb--in which case you would write:
    Many pensioners obviously don't know about the Internet and e-mail.

    The problem?
    Both sentences have different meanings!
    ....Suffice it to say that if a parenthetical is used at the beginning of a sentence it doesn't need a comma.
     

    pjay

    Member
    German Germany
    In both cases obviously is an adverb, as evidenced by the -ly ending. But you're right. In your second case ( Many pensioners, obviously, don't know about the Internet and e-mail.)
    the adverb needs to be comma-separated. You can call this parenthesis, if you wish.

    Mind the difference between adverbial and adverb.


    In this particular country, many pensioners don't know about the Internet and email.

    Here we have a long adverbial, which is not an adverb, and which needs to be separated by a comma.
     

    jester.

    Senior Member
    Germany -> German
    pjay said:
    Here we have a long adverbial, which is not an adverb, and which needs to be separated by a comma.

    I think what you are referring could also be called "adverbial phrase" as one form of sub-ordinate clauses.
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    I'm with maxiogee on this. I definitely would not say "a very few".

    Would I pause after obviously in reading the second sentence? Yes. So I'll definitely use the comma. That's the grammar point. But why is it obvious? I once made the mistake of saying something like that to a focus group in a rural community. To me, obviously is often used to hide the fact that you haven't any evidence to back up the statement.

    So I would leave it out of your sentence, thus avoiding the comma dilemma.
     
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