This guide will help you become more comfortable using commas in everyday life. Commas are arguably the most underrated grammatical tool in writing.
Let’s dive into the many ways in which “of course” can be used in relation to commas. We’re excited to embark on this journey with you!
Is a comma necessary after “of course?”
Introducing a comma after “of course” will only be deemed incorrect if “of course” is located at the end of the sentence, in which case a period should be placed instead. If found at the beginning of the sentence, “Of course” should be followed by a comma. If placed in the middle, it should be isolated by parenthetical commas. “Of course” can be used as an adverb, in which case a comma should follow it, as its purpose is to emphasize meaning. Unless conveying initial doubt is crucial to the sentence’s meaning, a comma should also be introduced when “of course” is used as a convention. In an informal setting, a comma doesn’t always have to be placed after “of course”, which will help the writer highlight tone.
“Of course” as an adverb
“Of course” typically functions as a sentence adverb. Adverbs are utilized to provide the reader with information about the circumstances of the activity set out by the verb.
“Of course” is a sentence adverb because it acts as a comment, showcasing the speaker’s attitude towards the information provided.
“Of course” will not be used frequently in academic papers; you should be using synonyms that sound more eloquent such as “undoubtedly” or “certainly”.
“Of course” is a colloquial term that you also won’t find in professional settings.
The below example will highlight how “of course” is used to refer to something obvious to the reader:
In this case, a comma will be placed after “of course” because it is located at the sentence’s opening. It is essential for creating rhythm and improving readability.
The sentence would still work perfectly well if “of course” was taken out, making it a piece of information that is not crucial to the reader’s understanding but that provides emphasis and character.
The example above is grammatically incorrect, as the comma has not been placed following “of course”. You might notice that the tone and rhythm of this sentence do not have the same vitality as Example 1.
“Of course” as a confirmative noun
In the below example, “of course” will be used as a noun to replace “yes”:
Since “of course” has not been followed by any other words, a comma here is unnecessary. “Of course” will only be used in the way shown above as part of a piece of dialogue.
You won’t encounter a complex sentence that places “of course” in its introduction without being followed by other words.
This is also why you probably won’t find “of course” being used this way in a formal setting.
“Of course” as a convention
Conventions are used to improve the readability of our writing. Commas themselves can serve as writing convention, as they hold the ability to emphasize tone and create flow.
Including conventions in your writing is a great way to help the reader understand the information at hand.
“Of course” is a powerful convention because it emphasizes parts of the sentence, making tone obvious to the reader.
When “of course” is used as a convention, there won’t usually be a need to introduce a comma after it, but it might be necessary to introduce one before it if another word precedes it.
The below examples will help you realize how “of course” can affect meaning:
In the example showcased above, “of course” is used as a polite way of giving permission. It emphasizes tone.
A comma does not follow it because the flow of the sentence does not require it.
This sentence structure won’t usually be used in a professional writing setting, but you might stumble across it in dialogue or casually.
In Example 2, “of course” has been completely removed, and feasibly, you have been able to notice the changing meaning of the sentence.
In this case, the speaker does not come across as polite or as enthusiastic as Example 1.
The dialogue is monotone, and the tone can come across as passive-aggressive.
Hopefully, these examples have helped you understand how “of course” is used as a convention to add meaning to a sentence.
“Of course” as a parenthetical element
Proper grammar would require you to introduce a comma preceding “of course” and follow it if placed in the middle of a sentence.
When “of course is utilized in this way, it is regarded as a parenthetical element, carrying information that is not crucial to the reader’s understanding.
However, some people agree that minor interruptions in tone, which would require a restrictive clause, do not always requisite commas if clarity is not being threatened.
The examples below will showcase how placing a parenthetical will help you establish tone:
Example 1 is universally agreed on as being grammatically correct. You should be using it as guidance if you’re writing an academic paper or a professional email.
It will help you come across as eloquent. Placing commas in such a way will also help you highlight the parenthetical element.
In Example 2, the parenthetical element has not been isolated from the rest of the sentence using commas, which is technically grammatically incorrect.
You should not be using this version of the sentence if you want to come off as eloquent in your writing, but it has the ability to help you establish a rhythm that suits your writing style.
“Of course” in relation to tone
The examples below will showcase how placing a comma after “of course” can change the sentence’s tone, affecting purpose and meaning.
Using “of course” without introducing a comma after it can suggest a misrepresentation of initial doubt:
A: Are you going to clean up the storage room?
B: Of course I am going to clean it! It’s my job!
In this example, the second speaker is upset, and the tone comes off as rude and passive-aggressive. The lack of a comma after “of course” creates a fast-paced rhythm that instills frustration into the reader.
A: Are you going to clean up the storage room?
B: Of course, I’m going to clean it up.
This example comes across as more laid back and relaxed than the previous one.
Ensuring that commas are placed in the proper sequence in a sentence is extremely important to get meaning across in an sophisticated manner.
If you don’t want to suggest initial doubt, it is not recommended that you use a comma after “of course”.
Hopefully, this guide has helped you familiarize yourself with the complex world of punctuation.
“Of course” has multiple meanings depending on its function as an adverb or a convention, which changes based on comma placement.
Mastering the complex art of punctuation is a harrowing quest to embark on, but the benefits of it will undoubtedly shine brightly on the quality of your writing.
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.