Comma After a Short Introductory Phrase


I got an e-mail from a reader named Mike who had a question about the sentence “Soon I will go to the office,” which I had used as an example in a piece I wrote. Mike wanted to know “Shouldn't there be a comma after soon?”

Sure. Or not. Whatever.

A comma after a short introductory word, phrase, or clause, I told him, is optional. So in "Soon I will go to the office," no comma is needed.

“On Tuesday I will go to the office.” “On Tuesday, I will go to the office.”

You could go either way on these. It depends solely on which way you, the writer, feel best conveys the way you want it to come across.

But the longer the introductory matter, the greater the likelihood a comma will help.

“On the third Tuesday of the month, I go to the office.”

Technically you could skip the comma in the sentence. But I wouldn’t.

“On the third Tuesday of every month that ends in the letter Y, I go to the office.”

In this one, by the time you get to the main clause (“I go”), you’re in so deep that it’s hard to remember a main clause is even coming. So in that case, I’m guess that about 99% of editors would agree a comma is needed.

It’s just one of many areas of the language in which good judgment reigns supreme.

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