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!
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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/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!
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