Everything Language and Grammar

Comma with Because

Posted by languageandgrammar on July 30, 2009

I often see writers and editors putting a comma before the word because, for example, This won’t surprise anyone who has known her for a long time, because she has always espoused both liberal and conservative perspectives.

The problem with this construction is that the word because is a subordinating conjunction, which means that it introduces a subordinate, or dependent, clause. When placed after the main clause, also called the independent clause, neither subordinating conjunctions nor subordinate clauses get commas before them. If, however, the subordinating conjunction (and its dependent clause) come at the beginning of a sentence, a comma must be used after the clause.

So, for our example sentence above, we would have either:

  • This won’t surprise anyone who has known her for a long time because she has always espoused both liberal and conservative perspectives.

OR

  • Because she has always espoused both liberal and conservative perspectives, this won’t surprise anyone who has known her for a long time.

Other examples:

  • I stayed home instead of venturing out for the evening because I was tired.
  • Because I was tired, I stayed home instead of venturing out for the evening.
  • His explanation did not satisfy her but, rather, made her suspicious because she’d just seen a similar plot on the late, late show.
  • Because she’d just seen a similar plot on the late, late show, his explanation did not satisfy her but, rather, made her suspicious.

Sherry

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