Grammar Tip – Commas With Introductory Thoughts

Mary Ann’s question: “Should there be a comma in the following sentence: ‘If you’re driving tired you’re driving impaired’?”

BizWritingTip response: Years ago, writers were told to place a comma wherever they would take a breath. But this could sometimes be confusing as people don’t always have the same breathing patterns. And people learning English often insert too many commas.

There are now firm rules for the placement of commas. One rule is to always place a comma after an introductory thought in a sentence.

Examples (correct)

If you are driving tired, you’re driving impaired.
In my opinion, too many writers forget this rule.
As you requested, I eventually answered your question.
Although you may have seen sentences without a comma after the introductory thought, the sentences were wrong.
Therefore, don’t forget to add a comma.

Note: If the sentence is inverted and the phrase is placed after the main thought, the comma is not needed.

Examples (correct)

Too many writers forget this rule in my opinion.
I eventually answered your question as you requested.
Sentences without a comma after the introductory thought are wrong although you may have seen some written this way.