Is there a comma before since?
There is usually no comma before since, as “since” is a subordinating conjunction. “Since” can also function as both a preposition and an adverb. In these roles, too, a comma preceding ‘since’ is generally unnecessary.
”Since” as a preposition — Comma Rules
When “since” acts as a preposition, it denotes temporality. It lets us know that something that takes place has or hasn’t been taking place after a certain time.
If this seems too vague for you, then the following examples will clear things up.
Here, “since” refers back to the wedding and lets us know that after the wedding and until this very moment, the speaker hasn’t interacted with Stan.
In the next example, we are tying the improvement of her skills to her attending the seminar.
That said, it’s important to stress that the relationship here is temporal.
In other words, before attending the seminar, her skills weren’t improving, but after the seminar, things changed.
Nevertheless, for many people, the above temporal connection is causal.
After all, what could have caused the increase in her skills if it weren’t for the seminar?
Yet, to prove to you that “since” here is used to mark time, not cause, let’s look at one final example.
There is one important thing that needs to be highlighted.
When “since” comes as a preposition, the verb tense of the main clause is the present perfect. We will talk more about this later on.
Does “since” the preposition need a comma?
When “since” comes at the end of a sentence to start a prepositional phrase, it doesn’t need a comma. The only time a comma is necessary is when “since” comes at the beginning of a sentence. In this case, the comma will have to be used at the end of the prepositional phrase but not directly after “since.”
In the above sentence, “since” comes after the main clause, so there is no need for a comma before it.
When we change around the order of the sentence and bring the prepositional phrase “since reading the book” at the beginning, we have to follow the prepositional phrase with a comma to separate it from the main clause.
”Since” as an adverb — Comma Rules
The second use of “since” is as an adverb. “Since” doesn’t precede a prepositional phrase in this context. Instead, it exists on its own, modifying its verb.
In this example, “since” modifies the verb “have seen” and answers the where.
Its effect is also temporal here, used to mark time. In fact, “since” here refers to a point in time that has been mentioned earlier, which is “college” in the above example.
It is important to point out that “since” the adverb keeps pretty close to the verb it is modifying.
For example, you can’t take this adverb and place it at the beginning of the sentence. “Since” has to come after the verb and not that far from it.
Does “since” the adverb need a comma?
The answer is a clear no. If anything, seeing as “since” stays pretty close to the verb it is modifying, there really is no space to place a comma in the first place.
”Since” the conjunction — Comma Rules
When “since” ties different clauses together, it acts as a subordinating conjunction.
This means that one clause becomes the dependent clause, the subordinate one, while the other clause acts as the main or independent one, also known as the ordinate clause.
Now, all you need to know is that a subordinate clause cannot show up on its own. You need a main clause for the entire sentence to make sense.
This sentence on its own does not make much sense. What happened while I was traveling?
Now, the sentence is complete and the whole thing makes sense.
With this in mind, “since” acts as a subordinating conjunction, one that can be used for either temporality or causality.
“Since” for temporality looks like this.
In the above sentence, “since” acts similarly to “since” the preposition. It marks a certain point in time and lets us know that something has been going on since that moment.
So, in the above sentence, the moment in time is when I started going to the gym, and what has happened after that is that I have been feeling a lot better.
Alternatively, here is how “since” can function as a causal conjunction.
In this example, there are two parts. You have the reason and the action, the action being the main clause. The reason is that they needed to pass the exam, and it is preceded by “since.”
Alternatively, the main action is that they asked their professors which lessons to focus on.
Here are a few more examples. See if you can figure out whether “since” is acting in a temporal or causal fashion.
Since the weather was hot, they chose to stay inside.
Since he felt ill, he decided to call in sick.
Since they were children, the Baudelaires have had to suffer a series of unfortunate events.
If you want a hint to figure out which is which, here is a quick tip.
When “since” acts temporally, you will usually find the main clause containing a verb in the present perfect tense or some other similar variation.
However, this will not necessarily be the case with “since” for causation.
Here is the quick answer sheet for the above examples. The first one is temporal, the second is causal, the third is causal, and the fourth is temporal.
Does “since” the conjunction need a comma before it?
A comma before since is not necessary when since is used as a conjunction. When it comes to subordinate clauses, you do not need a comma if the clause comes at the end of the sentence. This applies to all subordinate clauses, not just “since.”
However, if the subordinate clause comes at the beginning of the sentence, then you will need a comma to separate it from the main clause. But of course, in this case, the comma does not come before since either.
Comma Before “Since” — Clauses
Some clauses and phrases need commas to be meaningful. At other times, no comma should also be used with them to show grammaticality.
“Since” may be used to introduce clauses and phrases in a sentence. In this section, though, we’ll focus more on how it links clauses as well as how to decide on comma placement.
Remember that for a sentence element to be considered a clause, it needs to contain a subject and a verb. On the other hand, phrases don’t.
Comma before “since” in a dependent clause
A dependent clause is something that’s headed by a subordinating conjunction whose meaning is dependent on the main clause to make complete sense.
Dependent clauses do not always need pre-commas to work. But, when the clarity of the sentence’s meaning is at stake, commas help in making them less ambiguous.
The only time we need to consider using a comma before “since” is when it introduces clauses preceded by negative verbs.
Negative verbs like “don’t,” “didn’t,” and “wouldn’t” often make sentences ambiguous, especially the dependent clause.
To solve the issue, writing authorities recommend using a comma before “since” as well as other conjunctions like “because” when this happens.
His mom isn’t just a good woman, since she’s a superwoman.
Remember that the rule above is quite a special case. The general rule for subordinating conjunctions is that they should not be preceded by a comma in regular sentence structures.
Unless there is a good reason to do so, such as to clarify a sentence’s meaning, no comma should come before subordinating conjunctions that come midway.
Comma before “since” after a parenthetical idea
A parenthetical idea is something that is added to enrich the meaning of a sentence. It is marked by a set of commas when used midsentence.
Parentheticals are considered free-flowing elements, as they can be placed wherever the writer wants to.
They are also grammatically independent, which means they can be removed yet the remaining parts would still make complete sense.
When a sentence contains a parenthetical somewhere in the middle and is followed by any type of clause introduced by “since,” a comma is always necessary.
This just means that the mandatory comma before “since” is actually the closing comma of the parenthetical element.
Here are a few examples to see how this explanation plays out:
We had so much fun back in the summer of the mid-eighties, the good old days, since we’d played tag and did three-legged races.
Comma before “since” in a parenthetical adverbial clause
Adverb clauses can also be used as parenthetical elements. When these types of clauses occur midsentence, they have to be enclosed with commas.
Any clause introduced by “since,” whether something that denotes time or cause, is an adverbial type, hence the heading.
Notice how and why “since” is preceded by a comma in the next two examples:
The truth is, since I arrived here, I’ve fallen in love with the place.
The clauses introduced by “since” in the examples above are grammatically independent. This means that they are removable.
Here’s what’s left after removing the parenthetical adverb clauses, which still make complete sense:
I thought that he was just irresponsible.
The truth is I’ve fallen in love with the place.
No comma before “since” in a dependent clause when since means “because”
Bearing a causative sense at times, “since” may also mean “because.” It is often used to introduce a dependent clause after the main clause.
No comma should come before “since” when this happens, similar to what you would do when typically using “because” in a sentence.
“Because” is actually a subordinating conjunction, which means that a comma is meanwhile not needed when using it in a sentence to introduce a cause.
As a rule of thumb, a comma before a subordinate clause introduced by a subordinating conjunction must be avoided at all costs.
You would only need to worry about commas when you invert the order of clauses, which means that the independent clause comes after the dependent clause.
To see the explanation more clearly, here are a couple of examples:
He’s been my partner in crime on this Nevada trip since he loves adventures too.
Parentheticals, as the word suggests, may also be enclosed with rounded brackets or “parentheses.”
It’s also a bit tricky to know whether a comma should come before or after a parenthesis used within sentences.
One more conjunctive sense of “since” is when it means “from a time in the past until now.” This can also be used to introduce a dependent clause.
Again, a dependent clause that comes midsentence does not need a pre-comma. Therefore, you should avoid using one when it is used this way.
Just ensure there is no parenthetical idea before it to warrant the correct comma omission.
Things haven’t been the same since he’s been gone.
The novel has generated millions since its launch back in 2020.
“Ever since” — Comma Rules
A very close relative to “since” is “ever since.”
The rules that apply to “since” equally apply to “ever since.” That said, this also means that ever since is not preceded by a comma, just as is the case with “since.”
As a matter of fact, there is no real difference, and the only noteworthy thing is that “ever” is an intensifier that gives the meaning of temporal continuity.
“Ever since” lets us know that something has been true starting from a given point in time.
If you’re unclear on what this means, the following examples should clarify matters for you.
Since reading the book, he has changed his views on a lot of things.
We have already seen this example above when we were talking about “since” the preposition.
However, what I want you to notice here is that the main clause uses the present perfect tense of the verb, “has changed.”
The present perfect is used to connote continuity, that something has been going on for a while or that something in the past still affects the present somehow.
This makes the present perfect different than both the present simple and the past simple tenses, where the verb just lets us know that something has happened without any reference to continuity.
Here are two quick examples to drive the point home.
This example shows that Molly fixed the car sometime in the past. Beyond that, we have no further information.
Not only does this sentence let us know that Molly has fixed her car, but it also lets us in on the fact that these fixes should still be in effect today.
So, going back to the above example, the use of the present perfect, “has changed his views,” lets us know that his changed views are still with him to this day, affecting how he leads his life.
Now, let’s see “ever since” in action.
In the latter part of the above example, the main clause, we can get by with only the past simple tense, something we couldn’t have done with “since” alone. Why?
Well, “ever since” gives us the continuity we need, so using the present perfect tense at this point would be superfluous.
You see, “ever since” also tells us that he still carries his changed views to this day and that they have left an imprint on how he leads his life.
That said, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use the present perfect tense with “ever since.”
There are plenty of situations where you will need to use this tense. The purpose of the above examples was only to illustrate the effect of adding “ever” to the equation.
In the example we just looked at, “ever since” acts as a preposition.
It can also function as a conjunction or an adverb.
Yet, when acting as a conjunction, “ever since” is always used for a temporal effect, never a causal one. Let’s look at a few examples to clear things up.
Here, “ever since” is a subordinating conjunction that ties two clauses together. It also plays a temporal function in the sentence.
I almost had an accident when speeding with the car, so I stopped speeding ever since.
In this last example, “ever since” is an adverb that tells us when I stopped speeding.
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.