Having good comma skills show how attentive to details we are. It goes to show that we care a lot about how we communicate through writing.
One comma-related concern that has come up these days is its usage together with the word “via,” particularly right before it.
Luckily, that’s what we are going to talk about today.
Shall we begin right away?
When should we use a comma before “via”?
A comma before “via” is used when it comes after an introduction and a direct address. A pre-comma is also necessary when “via” introduces a side comment in the middle or at the end of a sentence. Meanwhile, no pre-comma should be used when “via” acts as a regular preposition and a proper noun.
An intensive guide to placing a comma before “via”
It’s quite a myth to say that Latin is dead. In fact, we still use a lot of Latin expressions today – we probably just don’t know it.
The abbreviation “e.g.,” which we know of as “for example” in English, actually stands for “exempli gratia” – a Latin phrase, obviously enough.
As you may have noticed, a comma after “e.g.” in the previous example is used. You probably know that a comma is indeed necessary there but not exactly “why.”
In case you want to have a wide breadth of know-how on this topic, you may also check out when a comma should come before “for example” in writing.
The same thing can also be done with “via.” Don’t worry because the nitty-gritty of the rules that govern the comma usage before “via” shall be explained a bit later.
“Via” is a also word of Latin origin that means “by way of.” In layman’s terms, “via” is a very close relative or synonym of “through” – perhaps even a first-degree cousin.
On a side note, the phrase “by way of” is not used the same as “by the way” because the latter is a transition device more technically known as a conjunctive adverb.
When writing sentences, a comma after “by the way” is almost always needed, but a comma after “by way of” isn’t. That’s also another key difference that we have to remember.
Meanwhile, using a comma before “via” could be a piece of work for some.
But, with the guidelines listed in the next section, it shouldn’t be that confusing anymore.
Knowing when to use a comma before “via” in writing
The preposition “via” is something you would use when you want to describe the way in which something is done or passes through.
In actual usage, “via” is often used in discussions related to communication, transportation, technology, as well as electronic devices.
For example, you could say something like the following statement if you want to use “via” in the context of communication
And, you could also use “via” in the context of transportation such as in the next example sentence:
As you have noticed, no comma comes before “via” in the last two examples. If that’s the case, what then are the conditions that should prompt us to use a pre-comma?
Comma before “via” after an introduction
Introductory words and phrases are separated with commas from the rest of the sentence. By and large, this is done to make reading much easier.
Introductory elements help readers digest ideas more effectively, especially in longer texts, because they drive contextualization and transition.
With this in mind, we can already understand that a comma before “via” should always be used when it comes after any introductory expression.
The phrases “during this time” and “by the way” are examples of introductory phrases that can be used to start off sentences.
It follows that using a comma after “during this time” or “by the way” should be carefully observed when they are used in such a manner.
Let’s take a closer look at the next example which uses “via” after an introductory word for better visualization:
“Precisely” is used as an interjection that suggests agreement in the example above. Since “via” is used after it, a comma should separate the two words.
Comma before “via” in the middle of the sentence
A comma before “via” should also be used when it introduces what we call parenthetical expressions somewhere in the middle of the sentence.
Parentheticals are interruptive thoughts that we normally insert within spoken conversations when we want to express comments about a topic.
We might as well call these parenthetical insertions “afterthoughts” or “side comments” for easier understanding.
As side comments normally occur in speech, it is expected that the greatest scholars have also looked for ways to express them through writing.
Commas, as well as parentheses, are two kinds of punctuation marks that we use to clearly show side comments in writing.
That said, we can already guess that a comma should also come before “via” when it introduces a side comment in midsentence.
As you can see, “via” introduces a quick interruptive suggestion of how the communication had better be done, and thus, it requires a pre-comma.
To know that an expression is inserted parenthetically, feel free to peel it off from the sentence. If what remains still works, then commas should go around the expression.
Comma before “via” at the end of the sentence
As side comments are just additional elements that enrich sentences, they can actually be used anywhere.
This means that a side comment can also come at the end of the sentence. When that happens with “via,” a pre-comma is also necessary.
When choosing to use “via” to introduce extra information at the end of the sentence, take note that this might as well be considered a “delaying tactic.”
The next example aims to show this writing strategy in the context of cultural appropriation or exploitation – a little-known consequence of racism.
The noun phrase introduced by “via” in the example above shows an example of a way of doing cultural appropriation.
Putting it toward the end of the sentence makes the statement more emphatic, thereby creating a rhetorical effect.
Comma before “via” after a direct address
A direct address can also be a good indicator of comma usage. A direct address is also known as a vocative expression in language studies.
We use commas around direct addresses to signal the idea that we are “talking directly to” as opposed to “talking about” a person or any message receiver.
A comma before a vocative expression is needed when the message is mentioned before the addressee’s name.
Meanwhile, a comma before and after a direct address is used when it is used somewhere in the middle of the sentence.
As you may figure, a comma comes after the direct address when the message comes after it as well as when it is used at the beginning of the sentence.
From this vantage point, we could already assume that a comma should also come before “via” when a direct address comes before it.
Take note that direct addresses are not limited to names only because honorifics and terms of endearment are also considered as such.
Knowing when not to use a comma before “via” in writing
Now that we already know the conditions that guide the necessary comma usage before “via,” knowing when to drop the comma is also helpful.
This section shouldn’t be as complex as the previous one because there are only two things we have to remember.
No comma before “via” as a regular preposition
The first thing to take note of is to leave out the comma when “via” is only used as a regular preposition followed by its object.
As this is almost always the case, there should be nothing to worry about when using “via” in a sentence.
Remember, though, that this can only be done when all conditions under the necessary pre-comma section are not met.
When using “via” as a regular preposition, we can describe it as a “grammatically restrictive” word – something that is critical to complete the wholistic meaning of the sentence.
In other words, whatever phrase introduced by “via” should be necessary to complete what you want to say, or else, the sentence would be pointless without it.
As you can see, the prepositional phrase “via the attached link below” is needed to guide the reader on what step should be taken.
And, even though it is grammatically possible to just write “please subscribe to our newsletter,” the campaign would be useless without the “via” phrase.
No comma before “via” as a proper noun
The other condition that signals leaving out the pre-comma is when “via” is deliberately used as a proper noun.
This means that no comma should come before “via” when it is used as a proper name, such as a company name, for instance.
This also makes “via” a grammatically important element in the sentence, so long that the necessary pre-comma conditions, again, are not met.
To make things clearer, here’s an example showing the explained condition:
Let’s meet and dine at Via Caelum this weekend.
“Via” is intentionally used as a part of a restaurant’s name in the last example, which makes it a grammatically important element of the sentence above.
This comma rule can be applied no matter where you want to use “via” as a proper noun, so long that it is necessary to complete, and not enrich, your sentence’s meaning.
Frequently Asked Questions on “Comma Before ‘Via’”
How do we use “via” in a sentence?
“Via” is used as a preposition to suggest the meaning “by way or means of” in a sentence. Since it is a preposition, a noun word or phrase should come after it. It is also another way of saying “through.”
Is “via” a formal word in English?
Relatively speaking, “via” is a more formal synonym of “through” in English. While “through” can be a general choice when suggesting something that means “by way of,” “via” is largely limited to more formal writing contexts.
What is a good synonym for “via”?
“Through” is a well-known and widely-used informal synonym of “via.” Meanwhile, “by means of” and “by virtue of” are more formal ones.
No matter where we are or where we go, writing remains to be an important part of everything that we do.
“Commas save lives,” as they say, “and reputation too.” So, you should not be afraid or hesitant to use “via” in a sentence together with a pre-comma anymore.
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.