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Commas with discourse markers | English Grammar

English Grammar | using a comma with discourse markers

In conclusion, the world population is expanding at an unsustainable rate. [correct]
In conclusion the world population is expanding at an unsustainable rate. [incorrect]

If we look for example, at sports in school. [incorrect]
If we look, for example, at sport in schools. [correct]

Discourse markers

Discourse markers are words or phrases which show how ideas in a text link together. They are often separated from the rest of the text by commas.

We usually use a comma after a phrase or an adverb which introduces a sentence

  • In addition, many people suffer discrimination at work.
  • On the other hand, the unemployment rate has fallen.
  • Finally, local councils need to consider the cost of recycling schemes.
  • Unfortunately, there were no more tickets available.
  • Similarly, animals kept outdoors are also vulnerable to infection.

We also use commas around certain words and phrases in the middle of a sentence

  • This problem can't, however, be solved quite so simply.
  • There are more jobs in the city, but, of course, the cost of living is higher.
  • Water is particularly scarce in arid regions, for example / for instance, in Africa.
  • People who live in cold countries, such as / like Norway, have to spend more money on heating.

Where an adverb describes an adjective, commas are not needed:
  • This was matched by a similarly dramatic increase in May.
  • However careful you are, accidents can always happen.

See more common English grammar mistakes

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