★ (achacunsagloire) wrote in fandom_grammar,

achacunsagloire
fandom_grammar

Answer: What is the proper comma use with "therefore"?

Our next question comes from lacygrey:

What is the proper comma use with "therefore"?

“Therefore” is an adverb, but it can also serve as an introductory word.

First, let’s look at how it could be used as an adverb (with examples from Resident Evil):

“I need to find Ashley now,” Leon told Luis. “She’s just a civilian with no defensive training and therefore can’t defend herself.”

“I need to find Ashley now,” Leon told Luis. “She’s just a civilian with no defensive training and can’t therefore defend herself.”

“I need to find Ashley now,” Leon told Luis. “She’s just a civilian with no defensive training, and therefore she can’t defend herself.”

The placement of adverbs in a given sentence is flexible and more often than not depends on the rhythm of said sentence. While all of these examples are grammatically correct and make clear the issue (that Ashley is a civilian with no defensive training, and because of this fact, she can’t defend herself), the flow of the second sentence feels off and should be edited in order to regain that lost rhythm.

Next, let’s look at how “therefore” can be used as an introductory word (with an example from Silent Hill):

Mary’s letter says that she’s waiting for me in ‘our special place’… James thought. When we visited Silent Hill three years ago, we took a walk in Rosewater Park every day after lunch. Therefore I should check the park first.

In this example, James uses “therefore” to introduce his conclusion (that he should check the park first).

For more on adverbs, please check out this Grammar 101 entry by verilyverity.

Now, where do commas fit into all of this?

Commas serve many necessary functions, but in this post, we’ll cover only two: slowing the rhythm of a sentence and placing emphasis on a certain word.

Examples from Resident Evil and Silent Hill again:

“Chris, Jill,” said Wesker as his former subordinates entered the arena. “I’m so glad you two could join me. I was just about to test my latest creation, Tartarus. Its powerful leg muscles allow it to run up to seventy miles per hour, making it the fastest earth-bound creature in the world. I do hope you two are also fast—otherwise you’ll both end up dead before I’ve even had the chance to enjoy watching.”

“Chris, Jill,” said Wesker as his former subordinates entered the arena. “I’m so glad you two could join me. I was just about to test my latest creation, Tartarus. Its powerful leg muscles allow it to run up to seventy miles per hour, making it the fastest earth-bound creature in the world. I do hope you two are also fast—otherwise, you’ll both end up dead before I’ve even had the chance to enjoy watching.”


Claudia couldn’t help but smile as Heather raised the gun and pointed it at her.  ”So you’re going to shoot me, are you?” she said.


Claudia couldn’t help but smile as Heather raised the gun and pointed it at her.  ”So, you’re going to shoot me, are you?” she said.

The commas added in the final sentence of the second and fourth examples work to slow that sentence’s rhythm and emphasize its first word, thus emphasizing the doubt in Wesker and Claudia’s tones.

For more on commas and correct usage thereof, please check out this Grammar 101 entry by theemdash.

Now, remember the example about James concluding he should check the park first?

Mary’s letter says that she’s waiting for me in ‘our special place’… James thought. When we visited Silent Hill three years ago, we took a walk in Rosewater Park every day after lunch. Therefore I should check the park first.

James’s conclusion clearly states the sentence’s message (that James realizes he should check the park first), so you don’t need to use a comma after “therefore.” You can, however, elect to use a comma after “therefore” if you wish either to emphasize “therefore” (and thus the conclusion) or to slow the rhythm of the sentence.

Mary’s letter says that she’s waiting for me in ‘our special place’… James thought. When we visited Silent Hill three years ago, we took a walk in Rosewater Park every day after lunch. Therefore, I should check the park first.

Both versions of the sentence are correct.

Conclusion: no comma usage is absolutely required with “therefore.” Use a comma only if you want to slow the rhythm of the sentence and/or emphasize “therefore.”

Sources
http://www.drgrammar.org
http://www.learnersdictionary.com
http://grammar.ccc.commnet.edu/grammar
http://www.northland.cc.mn.us/owl/
Tags: !answer, author:achacunsagloire, punctuation:commas, style choice:punctuation
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