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Introductory Clauses and Phrases

A comma should be used after an introductory adverb clause, an introductory participial phrase, or a succession of introductory prepositional phrases.


(1) Adverb Clause

While Mario put the costume on, his accompanist played Deep Purple. An adverbial clause at the end of a sentence is not usually set off.

His accompanist played “Deep Purple” while Mario put the costume on.


(2) Participal Phrases

Watching the game from his elm-tree vantage point, Elmer forgot to hold on.

A verbal noun ending in – ing and used as the subject of the sentence should not be confused with an introductory participial phrase.

Washing and polishing the car is fun. (verbal nouns as subject)

Washing and polishing the car, I developed some sore muscles. (participial phrase)


(3) Succession of Prepositional Phrases

At the edge of the deep woods near Lakeville in Cumberland County, he built a small log cabin.

A single introductory prepositional phrase need not be followed by a comma unless it is parenthetical (by the way, on the contrary, etc) or necessary to prevent confusion.

With the weak, competition is unpopular. In the morning I am never wide awake.




  1. Use a period at the end of a simple declarative sentence.

The essays were all finished early.

  1. Use a period at the end of a polite request.

Please finish your compositions on time.

  1. Use a period after a mild request.

Notice the absence of fresh air in this room.

  1. Use a period after an indirect question.

They asked if the professor would appear that day.

  1. Use a period with most abbreviations.

Dr. Mr. Mrs. Ms. St. asst. (these are used before names)

M.D. D.D. Jr. Sr. Ph.D. Esq. (Do not use a period for abbreviations for agencies or acronyms)


  1. Use periods in parenthetical references and in Works Cited and Bibliographies. See examples on MLA sheet.
  2. Use periods with decimals, fractions and fractional amounts of money. Write money with cents in figures not in words.



Question mark

  1. Use a question mark after sentences which ask a direct question. What makes you think your answer is correct?
  2. Use a question mark within quote marks when quoting someone’s direct question. “Is this really true?” Debbie asked. George then asked, “Aren’t you ever sure of yourself?”
  3. Use a question mark after questions included in statements.
  4. Then the teacher asked. Why does Debbie always have doubts?

Use question marks with a series of questions within a sentence.

One must always consider who? what? where? when? and why a problem occurred hen writing a thesis.

5. Use a question mark with doubtful information.

She gave the answer to the problem as 28 (7) but her computations did not show how she arrived at that figure.

Exclamation mark

  1. Use an exclamation mark to indicate words with heavy emotional force. Fire! Snake! Get out! NEVER DOUBLE OR TRIPLE THE MARK!
  2. Use the exclamation to indicate sentences which show extreme joy, fear, shock outrage or irony. Down with term papers!



  1. Use a comma between independent clauses linked by a coordinating conjunction! Dark tried to explain, but Lois would not listen.
  2. Use commas after introductions elements in a series.

However, Dark persisted with his explanation.

3. Use commas to enclose nonrestrictive elements.

Dark Kent, who is a talented manipulator, knew he could convince Lois to help him with the assignment.

4. Use commas with nonrestrictive appositives.

Superman, Dark Kent, is an interesting illusion.


Nonrestrictive elements are those which are not necessary for the sentence meaning, as contrasted restrictive elements can not be removed from a sentence without changing meaning.


5. Use commas with most absolute phrases.

His costume approved by his mother, Dark went to work.

6. Use commas with elements that interrupt or stand outside the sentence or independent clause structure.

Dark, you must improve your comma usage.

My, my, my, I do enjoy watching “Superman”.

Yes, the new series is certainly interesting.

No, I do not wish to watch the re-runs of the old series.

7. Use commas with elements that stand outside or within independent clauses, conjunctive adverbs (Superman’s flying, therefore, must be super) and transitional words (Thus, Lois is always safe in his grasp.)

  1. Use commas to set apart words which are contrary. Superman, not Lois, is really the best reporter.
  2. Use commas before elements at the end of independent clauses. That is a surprise, isn’t it?

10. Use commas with elements in a series.

The Joker, the Penguin, Catwoman, and Robin are characters in the “Batman” series, in the “Superman” series.

11. Use commas after introductions to quotations.

Alphonse Brown indicates, “Superman is a figment of the starved population which assumes that society's ills can only be solved through a super human being.”

12. Use commas after salutations and closings as in the following letter.

October 12,1993

Dear Lois and Clark,

You have provided protection and security for Metropolis for years, so now, we would like to invite you to consider Grand Rapids, Michigan, as your new challenge. We would, welcome your attention, and eagerly await your reply.


13. Use commas in addresses and in dates, (see ex. 12)

14. Use commas in long numbers with more than three digits.

15. Use commas with titles and classifications, С. К. Superman, Jr., will fly again in 1997.

David R. Brown, M.D., has never had a malpractice suit against him.

16. Use commas to clarify meaning. Years before, Clark met Lois.



  1. Use a dash to connect an introductory list to the rest of the sentence.
  2. Use a dash to set interruptions apart from the rest of the sentence.
  3. Use a dash to set apart appositives and modifiers if they are particularly strong.
  4. Use a dash for a concluding list or summary.



  1. Use a hyphen to show related parts of word phrases: soon-forgotten.
  2. Use a hyphen to connect two word numbers: twenty-two.
  3. Use a hyphen between the prefix and word root to avoid confusion: re-create/recreate, re-sign/resign.
  4. Try to avoid using a hyphen at the end of a line in formal writing as it frequently detracts from the flow of the sentence. However, if you must use one, place the hyphen only between syllables of the word. Never hyphenate a one syllable word.

Quotation marks

  1. Use quotation marks to enclose direct quotations, unless the direct quote is more than four lines long. In the case of a block quote set the quote apart from the text without quote marks.
  2. Single quote marks are used to indicate a quote within a quote. Even in block quotes, the single quote mark is used to indicate a quote within a quote.
  3. Quotation marks are used to enclose: titles of poems titles of songs, titles of chapters in books titles of magazine articles, parenthetical families of titles of articles or chapters titles of essays in books.
  4. Quotation marks are used to enclose words used in special ways (CLICHES) which might not otherwise be appropriate to the form or context.

Rules: periods and commas go inside quote marks unless a parenthetical citation is necessary; colons and semicolons go outside quote marks.


1. Use a semicolon between independent clauses not joined by coordinating conjunctions but bearing a dose relationship.

2. Use a semicolon between independent clauses joined by conjunctive adverbs or transitional expressions: however, moreover. Going to the circus is fun; however, I hate the animal abuse.

3. Use a semicolon between items in an already punctuated series.



  1. Use a colon before a list or series with introductory word or words.
  2. Use a colon before an element that defines, renames, or illustrates the preceding independent clause.
  3. Use a colon before a formal quotation.
  4. Use colons in time (32:30), biblical quotations (John 3:16), Memos (To: From:)

Рекомендуемые учебники и учебные пособия:

Основная литература:

Барабаш Т.А., Грамматика английского языка. М., 2001 г.

Червякова Л.Д., Практикум по теоретической грамматике английского языка. М., РУДН, 2006 г.

Каушанская В.М., Ковнер Р.Л. Грамматика английского языка. Л., 1963.
Бархударов Д.С., Штеллинг Д.А. Грамматика английского языка. М., 1965.
Веселовский А.Н. Историческая грамматика. М., 1989.
Крылова И.П., Крылова Е.В. Грамматика английского языка. М., 1996.
Верба Л.Г., Верба Г.В. Грамматика современного английского языка. М., 2000.
Ilysh В.А. Тhe structure of Modern English, М., 1964.
Ganshina М.А., Vasilevskауа N.М. English Grammar, М.,1964.
Раlmer F.R.Тhe Еnglish Verb. L., 1974.
Robins R.Н. General linguistics. Аn introductory survey. Grand Rapids. Мichigаn, 1998.

Дополнительная литература:

Смирницкий А.И. Морфология английского языка. М.. 1959.
Смирницкий А.И. Синтаксис английского языка. М., 1957.
Бархударов Д.С. Структура простого предложения современного английского языка. М., 1966.

Власова М.Г. Сравнительный анализ типов международных переговоров. Дис. … канд. пед. наук. – М., 1998.

Воронцова Г.Н. Очерки по грамматике английского языка. М., 1960.

Иофик Л.Л., Чахоян Л.Л. Хрестоматия по теоретической грамматике английского языка. Л., 1967.
Иофик Л.Л. Сложные предложения в новоанглийском языке, Л., 1968.
Жигадло В.Н., Иванова И.П., Иофик Л.Л. Современный английский язык. М., 1956.
Караулов Ю.Н., Петров В.В. От грамматики текста к когнитивной теории дискурса // Дейк Ван Т.А. Язык. Познание. Коммуникация. – М.: Прогресс, 1989. С. 5-11

Саенко М.В. Нестандартные грамматические конструкции в современном испанском разговорном языке: Дис. … канд. филол. наук. – СПб., 1995.

Супрун А.В. Грамматика и семантика простого предложения (на материале испанского языка). – М.: Наука, 1977.
Jespersen O.Каsеntials оf Еng1ish Grammar. L., 1933.
Jespersen O.Тhe philosophy оf Grammar. L., 1935.
Freis Ch. Тhе structure оf Еng1ish. N.Y., 1956.
Ваrber С.L.Тhе Story of Language., 1964.


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