Knowing when and where to use commas is an important life skill; it saves us from miscommunicating what we mean.
But, people seem to get confused about when exactly this should be done, such as when they should put a comma after the word “beforehand.”
Today, we’ll be tackling this very issue to make writing more fun and less bothersome.
So, stick around ‘till the end to fully get the hang of how this punctuation rule works.
When does a comma come after “beforehand”?
A comma is necessary after “beforehand” when it comes before a vocative noun; when “beforehand” is used in an introductory expression; when it comes before a coordinating conjunction in a compound sentence, as well as when it is used as the last element in a parenthetical interruption mid-sentence.
The necessary comma placement after “beforehand”
“Beforehand” is an adverb that is used for pre-planning, anticipations, or expectations. That said, it suggests the meaning “in advance,” “ahead of time,” or “earlier on.”
A comma after the adverb “beforehand” necessarily appears when certain grammatical and stylistic conditions are met.
We can summarize all these conditions in four different rules, which are listed and explained in the sections below:
When “beforehand” comes before a vocative noun
The first rule that guides the comma usage after “beforehand” is when it appears before a vocative expression in a sentence.
In formal and “more grammatically correct” writing contexts, a comma before a vocative expression or “direct address” is always needed.
The motivation behind this is to distinguish a direct addressee’s name from any other non-vocative names used within the same sentence.
As you may know, the spoken and written language work quite differently since each of these two communication modes has its own can of worms.
With spoken language, we can easily identify when someone is talking directly to us when they say our name out loud because of our social acuity.
However, in the written language, we need more detailed cues to understand this referencing process, hence the mandatory comma.
To prevent any confusion or misinterpretation among readers, we should not forget to use a comma after “beforehand” every time a direct address comes after it – even when writing casual messages to our kins.
Making the use of appropriate punctuation a habit is ideal not because “correct grammar” is the only way to go but rather because it makes our messages free from ambiguities.
When in doubt, the default equation is to always use a comma before or after a name or direct address when you need to use one in a sentence.
An example sentence with the vocative noun “Troy” at the end is given below to see the explanation above more clearly:
I don’t think it is a good idea to tell everyone about your plan beforehand, Troy.
When “beforehand” is used in an introductory expression
The next rule that we have to remember when placing a necessary comma after “beforehand” is when it is used in an introductory expression.
Introductory expressions are elements that we use to provide initial contexts to our readers to help them understand better.
An introductory expression is set off with a post-comma all the time to separate it from the main idea or clause of a sentence.
“Beforehand” can be used as a single-word introductory expression, often as a follow-up explanation to something.
In cases like this, “beforehand” is used to suggest the meaning “earlier on”:
At other times, “beforehand” may also be used as the last word in a longer introductory phrase; when this happens, a post-comma is also necessary.
When “beforehand” comes before a coordinating conjunction in a compound sentence
Thirdly, a comma is also necessary after “beforehand” when it is used before a coordinating conjunction in a compound sentence.
The coordinating conjunction in a compound sentence is used to link two independent clauses, and the comma is used to mark both clauses’ grammatical independence.
If you have been paying enough attention, you would have noticed how the word “and” was used to connect the two independent clauses in the previous sentence.
In one of our previous posts, we have also covered the other special conditions that guide the comma usage with “FANBOYS” or coordinating conjunctions.
So, feel free to read those guidelines to fully make sense of how commas work along with conjunctions that connect independent clauses.
The key to remembering this third rule that guides the comma usage after “beforehand” is to bear in mind that FANBOYS simply stands for the following: for, and, nor, but, or, yet, and so.
Here’s an example sentence to make the explanation more visible:
When “beforehand” is used at the end of a parenthetical interruption midsentence
A comma after “beforehand” also needs to be used when it appears at the end of a parenthetical expression, particularly in the middle of the sentence.
A parenthetical expression is a grammatically unimportant element that is only used to add meaning to the sentence.
In spoken contexts, parenthetical expressions can be referred to as the “afterthoughts” or “interruptive comments” that we use between utterances.
When we imitate this language process in written contexts, we need the help of commas for a clearer distinction.
If we want to steer clear of commas, we may also alternatively place interruptive expressions within parentheses.
There are also other relevant conditions that guide the comma placement before or after a parenthesis that you can check out for further learning.
The incorrect comma placement after “beforehand”
Now that we already know when we should use a comma after “beforehand,” we had better go over the conditions that meanwhile guide its omission.
Similarly, certain grammatical conventions also guide this very rule. There are two cases in which we should leave out the post comma:
When “beforehand” is a restricted adverb in a sentence
There is no need for a post-comma when “beforehand” is used as a restrictive adverb in a sentence, which simply means a “grammatically essential word.”
When a word is grammatically important to the whole unit of meaning suggested by a sentence, no comma should separate its key elements.
This is actually the case with most adverbs used within a sentence – as long as the previously-discussed mandatory comma conditions do not apply.
Another way to look at this rule is to think that a sentence would barely make sense if the restrictive element is taken out, or at least it wouldn’t suggest the same intended meaning anymore.
Here’s an example of a restrictive usage of “beforehand” where it does not need a post-comma:
When “beforehand” comes before a subordinating conjunction in a complex sentence
The last and second rule to remember when leaving out the comma after “beforehand” is when it is used before a subordinating conjunction in a complex sentence structure.
Unlike compound sentences, a complex sentence is made up of at least one independent and one dependent clause.
These two clauses are linked together by subordinating conjunctions such as “because,” “although,” “as long as,” “lest,” and “if.”
Conjunctions are like bolts and nuts that fasten clauses together. They exist to make more complex ideas possible to express.
When the two clauses are ordinate or independent from each other, a comma is needed to signal their autonomy in a sentence.
Meanwhile, when one of the two clauses is dependent or subordinate, the comma is omitted to mark the grammatical dependency.
Frequently Asked Questions on “Comma After ‘Beforehand’”
What does “beforehand” mean?
The adverb “beforehand” suggests the meaning “in advance” or “earlier on.” This word is used when talking about preparations and anticipations such as in “Study beforehand to make sure you pass your exams.”
How can you use “beforehand” in a sentence?
Using “beforehand” in a sentence means using “before” plus the added meaning of “in advance.” For example, we can say “Learning the basics of your prospective employer beforehand gives you a head start in job applications.”
Is “beforehand the meeting” a correct phrase?
“Beforehand the meeting” is most likely a grammatically incorrect phrase, especially without the comma after the word “beforehand.” To make the phrase work without the comma, “beforehand” should be replaced with “before” instead.
Comma decisions can be tricky without practice and constant application. So, both time and patience are key to mastering the punctuation system.
Hope this post helped you get rid of your comma chameleon – I mean confusion!
Hey fellow Linguaholics! It’s me, Marcel. I am the proud owner of linguaholic.com. Languages have always been my passion and I have studied Linguistics, Computational Linguistics and Sinology at the University of Zurich. It is my utmost pleasure to share with all of you guys what I know about languages and linguistics in general.