Comma Before or After But: In this article, we will be discussing, Comma Before But with Independent Clauses, No Comma with Dependent Clauses, The Comma After But are the topics covered with their examples.
Comma Before But with Independent Clauses
RULE: If you want to join two independent clauses with a conjunction like “but,” then always put a comma before the conjunction “but.”
Let’s have an idea: What is an independent clause? A thought which is completely represented in a sentence is called an independent clause. It is also called the main clause. The sentence which can stand by itself as a simple sentence contains the subject and a predicate and makes meaning by itself.
I swam with the duck.
The above sentence has a subject, verb, and object. “I swam with the duck” portrays the sentence. As it is standing alone, it doesn’t require any dependent clause. It is a complete thought that doesn’t require any additional information. This all clarifies that the above sentence is an independent clause.
The door is open
The above sentence is another example of an independent clause. The above independent clause doesn’t contain an object like the above example. Independent clause requires only two essential things: subject and verb. There is no place for an object in an independent clause,
To link two independent clauses, “But,” “as,” “and,” and “or” are the conjunctions used for their connection.
I swam with the duck, but he was scared of me.
The door is open, but the windows are closed.
When you try to connect to independent clauses, place a comma before the “but” conjunction. If you want to check if the two clauses you are connecting are independent or not, first of all, remove the conjunction and analyze if the two different clauses can stand on their own, do they have a complete thought and if they do, add a comma before but to provide a pause in the sentence.
RULE: if one joins two sentences, one of an independent clause and the other of a dependent clause, then the conjunction that links them doesn’t require any comma.
Let’s move forward in the topic, try to understand what a dependent clause is?
A dependent clause is a part of a sentence and not a structured thought. The dependent clause cannot stand on its own. This clause works to add additional information to a sentence. While joining an independent clause and a dependent clause, one can use a conjunction.
I love boys but not all.
I enjoy parties but not lectures.
I love boys is the independent clause, and not all is the dependent clause. To join these sentences, the but is a conjunction used with one independent clause and another dependent clause. As these clauses are not independent, there is no need to place a comma before but.
The second example uses but as a conjunction. But is used to connect one independent clause and another dependent clause. As I enjoy parties are an independent clause and not lectures are a dependent clause, that’s why the comma isn’t used.
When you want to show emphasis, use a comma after “but”
Let’s have an idea of what is an emphasis? The Simple meaning of an emphasis is to provide special attention and special importance to someone.
If one sees the comma after the conjunction but, it seems unusual, but it is correct grammatically. We all have mostly seen a comma before conjunction but or often seen conjunction without a comma.
So the basic question that arises in mind is when do we place a comma after “but”? When a writer wants to seek attention, then a comma is placed after conjunction but. Whenever there is an interruption in the flow of a language, it happens because of a comma. It is usually done to underscore the inclusion of the word. The potential of a comma in a sentence decreases automatically if but is overused with a comma. So keep in mind that a comma should not appear more than once.
But, she was intelligent.
For literary effects, but are used at the beginning of the sentence as mentioned in the above example. Such types of sentences add a bit of drama and apprehension. It seems to interrupt when a comma is used after conjunction but.
The word offsets the text in the sentence but because a comma is placed after it.
Because in the example, the But is placed at the beginning of the sentence, and the comma follows the conjunction but.
If joining two independent clauses, join using conjunction but and placing a comma before conjunction but. When joining two clauses, one independent clause and another dependent clause, ignore using a comma. If you are writing regular sentences, then do not place a comma after the conjunction but.