Grammar Rule – Commas and Introductory Phrases and Words

Previously On Grammar Rule: We learned about commas in a list and commas and conjunctions. In case you missed last month’s installment, you can find it here. In today’s Grammar Rule, we are learning about commas and introductory phrases and words. Don’t go anywhere because we’ll be right back with this month’s episode of Grammar Rule!

*insert catchy theme music here*

First of all, we need to clear up what exactly is an introductory phrase. A phrase is a group of related words that do not have both a subject and a verb. An introductory phrase is a phrase that comes at the beginning of a sentence and prepares the reader for the rest of the sentence. Now that we’ve got that cleared up, we can now move on to the commas. After most introductory phrases, you will need to add a comma.

Slipping on his ring, Bilbo turned invisible.

To find the Arkenstone, Bilbo had to face Smaug.

Drawing his two swords, Fili ran into the orc battle with a shout.

A fearsome and malevolent beast, Smaug was considered the greatest calamity of that age.  

“Slipping on his ring,” “To find the Arkenstone,” “Drawing his two swords,” and “A fearsome and malevolent beast” are all types of introductory phrases, so a comma is needed to set them off.

By firelight the dwarves heard the tale of the Battle of Moria.

In this sentence there’s an introductory phrase, but no comma. No, that’s not a mistake. If you have an introductory phrase with five words or less that starts with a preposition, there’s no need for a comma. However, it’s not considered wrong if a comma is placed after “firelight.” Crazy, I know.

Occasionally, the dwarves would hear orc screams at night.

If your sentence starts with an adverb like “occasionally,” you will need a comma after it.

Meanwhile, Gandalf travelled to Dol Guldur to find the Necromancer.

Introductory words that help sentences to connect and flow together like “meanwhile” need a comma after them.

No, Kili has never washed his hair.

On the other hand, Legolas washes his hair at least twice a day with special Elf shampoo.

Interjections and common expressions also need commas after them.

Here are a few links that I found helpful while writing this post:

http://grammar.ccc.commnet.edu/grammar/commas.htm

http://www.grammarly.com/handbook/punctuation/comma/11/commas-after-introductory-phrases/

http://grammar.ccc.commnet.edu/grammar/quizzes/nova/nova2.htm – this one is a quiz you can take to test your comma knowledge

Join me next month for the next installment of Grammar Rule!

*insert more catchy theme music here*

~ Kayla

 

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5 thoughts on “Grammar Rule – Commas and Introductory Phrases and Words

  1. Firstly, you do these once a month?? Where does that time go?! 😐

    “The English Language is easy to learn but impossible to master,” or so I was once told. I think that’s a fair statement. I mean, how many native English speakers still mess up so much that it’s physically painful to behold? A lot, that’s for sure.

      • It’s nearly half over?? Whoa. And we haven’t even started the summer holidays over here yet! aha. Different worlds, eh. But make the most of what time you’ve got left. I’m sure you will 🙂

          • It doesn’t start until the end of July! Haha 😛 I have American family and I always find it mind boggling when my cousins are like, “SCHOOL’S OUT FOR SUMMER” in May. I’m like.. ‘Huh? Already??’ Such a long holiday!! Mental.

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