Should you use commas with ‘therefore,' 'hence,' ‘consequently,' 'thus,' and other similar words? Let’s find out.
Words like ‘therefore,' 'hence,' ‘consequently,' and 'thus' are known as conjunctive adverbs. So if you want to know whether or not to use commas with them, I think the first thing we need to do is find out what exactly those are.
Conjunctive adverbs are transition words. They can connect sentences or independent clauses, create emphasis, or add a pause in a sentence.
They are quite versatile and can be used at the beginning and middle of sentences.
Here are some examples of conjunctive adverbs:
Can you use commas before a conjunctive adverb?
The answer is:
You usually wouldn’t find a comma before a conjunctive adverb.
That’s because it’s either:
Just like in the following sentences:
Time is ticking. Therefore, we must hurry.
Time is ticking; therefore, we must hurry.
Ideally, you want to mostly use a coordinating adverb at the beginning of a sentence and after a full stop. That’s not because using a semicolon is incorrect but more so because semicolons are best used sparingly.
There is one instance, however, where a coordinating adverb could be preceded by a comma, and you just saw an example of it.
Let me write that sentence again:
There is one instance, however, where a coordinating adverb could be preceded by a comma.
The coordinating conjunction ‘however’ is offset by a comma on either side, which is a technique used for the pause effect it creates.
This is the only time when it’s okay to use a comma before a coordinating conjunction. And it works with others, too - not just ‘however.’ Look at the examples below where ‘therefore’ and ‘incidentally’ both follow and precede a comma.
The best course of action, therefore, is to postpone the event.
There is, incidentally, a corkscrew in the drawer.
What about using commas after a conjunctive adverb? The truth is, that’s actually a lot more common. It’s more than okay to do it in most cases.
I think it costs too much. Otherwise, I would have come.
Meanwhile, while you’re on vacation, I’m working like a dog.
Conjunctive adverbs can be punctuated with commas. Namely, you can put commas after the adverb.
Well, that’s pretty much the basics covered, so let’s take a look now at some more examples of sentences with conjunctive adverbs.
I should get a hefty paycheck this month. Indeed, I’ve done a lot of overtime.
She hasn’t finished her work yet; consequently, she needs to stay at the office.
The lawyer called and announced that, finally, we’d won the case.
You’re lurking in murky water, which is very dangerous. Moreover, it’s illegal.
I don’t think we should have lunch here. Instead, let’s go back to mine.
That concludes this article on using commas with ‘therefore,' 'hence,' ‘consequently,' 'thus,' and other conjunctive adverbs.
Let’s review what we’ve learned:
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