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Comma before “anyway”: Here’s What You Need to Know

Comma before “anyway”: Here’s What You Need to Know
 Not many writers think commas are fun. In fact, they stress a lot of people out.

But commas don’t have to make you pull your hair!

The trick to understanding commas is to break apart the sentence itself, identify the parts of it, and then use a few simple rules to determine when and where you need commas.

That said, most of the time if you are wondering whether you need a comma you probably want to know about its use with one specific word or phrase.

In this post, we will tackle the conjunctive adverb “anyway.”
 

 

Do you need a comma before “anyway”?

Understanding comma use with the word “anyway” depends on how the word is being used. If it is used as a synonym for “regardless,” you do not need a comma in almost all cases. If “anyway” is being used as a conjunctive adverb, whether you need a comma before it depends on its place in the sentence. If the word “anyway” is placed after a sentence’s initial clause, you should place a semi-colon before it instead of a comma. The word takes no comma before it if placed at the beginning or end of a sentence. If, however, it comes in between the subject and verb of the sentence, you do need a comma before “anyway.”

 

Anyway as a synonym for “regardless”

Anyway can be used to replace the word “regardless” in a sentence, or any other time you want to indicate that something happened despite circumstances which make it unusual.

If you are using it in this way, you do not need a comma before “anyway.”

 

Examples:

“She hated ice cream, but when the handsome man offered some she ate it anyway.”

“I was pretty sure I was failing English, but I tried my best on the exam anyway.”

 

In both of these sentences, the word “anyway” comes at the very end of a sentence and is used to highlight the contrast between the first clause and the second.

In the first example, the woman eats ice cream even though she dislikes it.

In the second, the subject of the sentence tries hard on an exam even though he or she is not doing well in the class.

Note that neither example has a comma before the word “anyway,” as one would be unnecessary and ungrammatical.

 

Anyway in spoken English

Another way to use “anyway” is to mark a change of topic or a return to the original topic in a spoken conversation.

Although this usage isn’t likely to come up in most forms of writing, it could be necessary if you are writing a piece of fiction with a realistic conversation between two characters.

Used in this way, “anyway” typically comes at the beginning of a sentence and would not be preceded by a comma.

Alternatively, you may use the rules for conjunctive adverbs below to place it elsewhere in a sentence in this context.

 

Examples:

“Anyway, how is your back recovering?”

“I was surprised that he did that too! Anyway, like I was saying earlier, pizza is delicious.”

 

In the first example, “anyway” serves to indicate that the topic of the conversation is changing.

No matter what was being discussed before, the speaker is showing that he or she is now talking about the health of the other person in the conversation.

In the second example, the word is being used to show a return to the original topic of the discussion.

In written form, because the word “anyway” comes at the beginning of a sentence it does not require a comma before it, although one should be placed after it in both cases.

 

Using commas when anyway is a conjunctive adverb

In most cases, the word “anyway” is a special type of adverb called a conjunctive adverb.

This type of adverb joins two independent clauses of a sentence together, showing how the ideas in each interact with one another.

Other examples of conjunctive adverbs are words like “however,” “also” or “meanwhile.”

Similarly to its use as a synonym for the word “regardless,” when “anyway” is used as a conjunctive adverb it serves to show contrast. As an adverb, however, the word shows contrast between the two parts of a sentence.

Whether or not you need to use a comma before “anyway” when it is a conjunctive adverb depends on where it falls in the sentence.

 

Anyway before the subject

It goes without saying that you don’t need to use a comma when a word comes at the beginning of a sentence.

When starting a sentence with “anyway,” follow the rule described for using the word in a conversation, and refer to the examples there for guidance.

 

Anyway between the subject and the main verb

Although it is uncommon, if a sentence places the word “anyway” in between its subject and main verb, you should set off the word with commas before and after it.

This is the only instance where you will need a comma before “anyway.”

 

Examples:

“I, anyway, was not convinced by the politician’s change of heart.”

“Julie and Bob had seemingly different appetites. Julie, anyway, ate a lot less than he did.”

 

These examples are somewhat nonstandard in formal writing, but they are both grammatical. In both of them, the word “anyway” serves to emphasize the subject’s reaction.

In the first example, for instance, the speaker is noting that while other people may have been convinced, he or she was not. In the second, the word serves to show the contrast between Julie’s appetite and Bob’s.

When placing “anyway” in between the subject of a sentence and its verb, you do need a comma first.

 

Anyway at the start of a clause after the first

When “anyway” is beginning a clause in a sentence after the first one, it needs to be preceded by a semi-colon rather than a comma. In this case, a comma does come after the word.

 

Examples:

“I bought five hamburgers which weren’t very good; anyway, they were food, and I was starving.”

“I can never remember whether tomatoes are fruits or vegetables; anyway, I don’t like them.”

 

In both of these examples, the word “anyway” comes after the initial clause in a sentence and connects it to the second. Although it might seem like this is a place to use a comma, a semi-colon is required or the sentence will become ungrammatical.

 

Anyway at the end of a sentence

Generally speaking, conjunctive adverbs placed at the end of a sentence do require a comma. Anyway is an exception to this rule, as noted in the section of this article which describes using “anyway” as a synonym for the word “regardless.”

When it comes at the end of a sentence, you do not need to use a comma before “anyway.”

 

A note about spelling

Before we get into the specifics of using the word “anyway” in a sentence, it’s important to note that this word is often misspelled.

One common misspelling is to split the word into two: any way.

However, this completely changes the meaning of the phrase, moving it from what is typically an adverb to an adjective (any) and a noun (way). As two words, an example of usage might be the phrase, “Is there any way you can help me?”

To make sure you are using the right phrase, try swapping the word “any” out for “some” and seeing if that changes the meaning.

“Is there some way you can help me?” still makes sense, so in this case you would want two words.

“I was hungry, but I skipped dinner someway,” on the other hand, does not make sense, so you know that “anyway” needs to be one word here.

Another common misspelling is the addition of an s to the word: anyways.

Although “anyways” is sometimes acceptable in casual conversation, you should avoid using it in written English as its use is considered ungrammatical.