Commas for an Adverb Clause in the Middle

Margie Wakeman Wells The Comma, Uncategorized 2 Comments

When an adverb clause comes in the middle of what it modifies, it takes commas around it. When the element it modifies is inside another dependent clause, the adverb clause still takes commas around it.

…He will be given a fine unless, when he calls, he gives us a reason for his absence.
…I left the company because, though I had been there for 20 years, I did not feel appreciated.

…I met a man who, after we talked for a while, seemed perfect for the project.
…We were with a cousin who, if you want a dynamite employee, is the person for you.

And when the adverb clause comes in the middle of a “that” clause, it has commas around it even when the “that” is there twice or is not there at all or is in front or is in back.

… I don’t remember that, when I was there, he asked that question.
… I don’t remember that, when I was there, that he asked that question.
… I don’t remember, when I was there, that he asked that question.
… I don’t remember, when I was there, he asked that question.

Happy punctuating!

Margie

Comments 2

    1. Post
      Author

      Hi.

      Later this year, I will be giving a course on clauses. It really deserves a place of its own in grammar and punctuation, and most people do not cover it at all.

      An adverb clause has a subject and a verb — there are a few exceptions, of course — and a word in front of it that, because it is part of the clause, makes the clause “dependent.” That word, in the case of adverb clauses, is a subordinate conjunction. There is a complete list in my book in the opening chapters. Here are some of them.

      after
      before
      although
      though
      when
      where
      whether
      because
      as
      since
      if
      until
      unless.

      So “He left” is a sentence. “When he left” and “because he left” and “after he left” are dependent clauses because of that introductory word, the subordinate conjunction.

      This is a start. As you work with them, certainly send more questions.

      Have a most blessed day.

      Margie

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *