Everything Language and Grammar

Conjunctive Adverbs—-or Adverbial Conjunctions

Posted by languageandgrammar on August 5, 2009

A sign is hanging up at work: Empty the trash, then line the basket with a new bag.

I saw the forecast for my local area: Rain will end this morning, then it will be partly sunny this afternoon.

Both of these sentences show the mis-use of punctuation for conjunctive adverbs. Conjunctive adverbs, also called adverbial conjunctions, join independent clauses; therefore, they should NOT be joined by a comma. This mistake is one that is made much too often, especially with the adverbial conjunction then.

The correct punctuation is a semicolon before the conjunctive adverb and a comma after it.

Rain will end this morning; then, it will be partly sunny this afternoon.

Empty the trash; then, line the basket with a new bag.

The same punctuation rules apply for all other conjunctive adverbs. Some of the most common of them are otherwise, therefore, in fact, thus, hence, and however.

Sherry

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