Thursday, August 17, 2006

Punctuation: comma after introductory element

Sometimes we assume that the comma after an introductory phrase or clause is optional--no big deal to leave it out. But this sentence proves that sometimes leaving it out creates real problems:
    If a store patron is attempting to steal the shopkeeper should be able to determine if a theft was committed by asking the suspect questions.
I like to use a comma after my introductory elements. I know this is "heavy" punctuation and that college writing teachers often don't require the introductory comma. But college teachers are usually teaching students to write fiction or essays. I'm teaching a form of technical writing.

I want the introductory comma.

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