Do you need a comma after “usually”?
You need a comma after “usually” when it is the introductory word in a sentence or independent clause. When it is placed elsewhere in a sentence, it should not be followed by a comma.
Comma usage with “usually” when it used as an introductory word
Most of the time, an introductory word or phrase at the beginning of a sentence or independent clause should be followed by a comma. This is the case with “usually.”
Here it is at the beginning of a sentence:
Usually, I wash the dishes, and he dries them.
In the examples below, “usually” comes in the middle of the sentence.
Notice that the first example is actually two sentences, or independent clauses, joined by a semicolon.
In the second example, the two sentences are joined by the conjunction “but”:
Wesley didn’t see her in the park; usually, she walked her dogs there.
I can’t remember what time Molly gets off work, but usually, she comes in here around seven or eight.
Some rules or style guides say that if the introductory phrase is short or there is just a single introductory word, you don’t have to put a comma after it.
It is easiest to be consistent and put a comma after “usually” at the beginning of a sentence or independent clause as you would with any other introductory word or phrase unless you are writing for a teacher or someone else who has asked you not to use it.
However, knowing this can be optional explains why you will sometimes see writers who do not do it or style guides that advise against it.
Comma placement with “usually” at the end of a dependent clause
There is one other type of sentence where “usually” is at the beginning of an independent clause. It is a little bit different from the examples above.
Remember that “independent clause” is just another word for a complete sentence, but a sentence can have additional parts besides just the independent clause.
In this type of sentence, “usually” is also the last word of a dependent clause.
Here are two examples:
She said that usually, no one was out on the lake this late at night.
My neighbors understand that usually, I work nights and sleep all day.
As you can see, in these sentences, “usually” is still at the beginning of an independent clause.
You might also think of these as sentences that have “that” clauses. The word “that” acts as a conjunction to link the two clauses, and when “usually” comes after it, it needs to be followed by a comma.
Punctuation with “usually” placed near the verb
“Usually” often comes between the subject and verb in the sentence. When this happens, it should not have a comma after it:
We usually eat dinner before 8 p.m.
The dogs usually run and hide from the cats.
“Usually” can also come between multiple verbs, and it also should not be followed by a comma:
The school has usually tried to give students extra tutoring instead of failing grades.
My sisters will usually call before they come over.
They could usually see where the workmen had finished for the day.
Don’t be confused by sentences where the subject is longer and the word “usually” appears to come later in the sentence.
Note that in the example below, the subject is “films that aren’t very good” and the main verb is “don’t win.”
“Usually” is still right there in between the subject and main verb, so it is not set apart with a comma:
Films that aren’t very good usually don’t win awards.
Commas with “usually” as part of an adverbial phrase or clause
An adverbial phrase or clause is a group of words that function like an adverb.
When “usually” is the first word of an adverbial phrase or clause, it is not followed by a comma.
Here is an example of “usually” as the first word of an adverbial clause:
The dog goes to bed, usually after she’s eaten her dinner.
And here is an example of “usually” as the first word of an adverbial phrase. The only difference between the two is that an adverbial clause has a subject and a verb and an adverbial phrase doesn’t:
The dog goes to bed, usually after dinner.
What if you moved that phrase or clause to the beginning of a sentence?
In those cases, the rule about “usually” as an introductory word would mean that it needs to be followed by a comma:
Usually, after she’s eaten her dinner, the dog goes to bed.
Usually, after dinner, the dog goes to bed.
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.