WANTED: Commas after introductory phrases

by Bailey Bischoff

Commas are some of the most necessary yet misunderstood means of punctuation in the English language. Even great writers (and writing tutors!) sometimes do not understand the rules behind comma placement. To help with comma placement, I will elaborate on one of the many comma rules here:

Commas are needed after introductory phrases.

Helpful Hint #1: Introductory phrases often start with words like in, during, before, or after. These are prepositions. Sometimes individual words such as however, fortunately, nevertheless, or allegedly comprise introductory phrases.

Ex. In July of 1969, Neil Armstrong became the first man to step foot on the moon.

Ex. Fortunately, he returned to Earth safe and sound.

Helpful Hint #2: Commas are needed after a dependent clause is used to begin a sentence. Dependent clauses often start with words like although, because, even though, since, though, while. (These are called subordinating conjunctions.) Dependent clauses have a subject-verb combination but cannot stand on their own as a sentence.

Ex. Even though he ate strawberries, Grayson didn’t get seeds in his teeth.

“Grayson” is the subject and “didn’t get” is the verb. “Even though he ate strawberries” is a dependent clause, not necessary for the sentence to be able to function, and is set off by a comma.

Note: Dependent clauses need a comma when they introduce a sentence; however, they can be put at the end of a sentence without the use of a comma.

Ex. In order to ride bikes, my family and I visited a park.

Ex. My family and I visited a park in order to ride bikes.

The important thing to remember is that both introductory phrases and dependent clauses placed at the beginning of sentences need commas to help them introduce a sentence.


Bailey Bischoff is a junior majoring in political science and is serving as student body president.

One thought on “WANTED: Commas after introductory phrases

  1. Thanks, Bailey. I’m going to insert this link into the Track Changes comments in my students’ papers this week when I see these commas missing.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *