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Comma before “yesterday” — All You Need to Know

Comma before “yesterday” — All You Need to Know

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It is a fact that commas are one of the trickiest punctuation marks to use. Pair it with another word, and things get more complicated.

These days, people are so curious that they ask under what circumstances a comma should come before the word “yesterday,” an adverb of time.

Because of that, this post aims to address this issue in such a way that the masses can easily understand.

Let’s get right into it.


When do we put a comma before “yesterday”?

We need a comma before “yesterday” when it is used after an introduction as well as when it comes at the end of a sentence and is preceded by an interruption. We also need a pre-comma when “yesterday” appears after a time zone, introduces an appositive phrase, or is used after a direct address.


Comma before “Yesterday” in utmost detail

“Yesterday” is a time expression used to refer to the day before the “relative now.” In language studies, it is also known as an adverb of time.

Correctly placing a comma before it entails certain “rules” related to English grammar and style, which is a bit tricky if you’re not necessarily into writing.

But, as punctuation marks have been part of any writing system for so many years now, it is already possible to set some guidelines about their usage at present.

Adverbs are one of those word families that we get to learn later in life, especially when compared to others like nouns and verbs.

This simply suggests that adverbs are naturally difficult to master like commas. For example, people have a hard time knowing whether “for” is an adverb or not.

This issue somehow arises when a word belongs in multiple categories or parts of speech, which is not necessarily a bad thing.

Meanwhile, commas are also a bit troublesome for many people because their usage depends on both grammar and style.

This means not all the rules that we know of are set in stone because the context in which the language is used does matter too.

For instance, based on sentence structure, using a comma before “whenever” is possible when it comes after an interruptive idea in the middle of the sentence.

However, it would also be a sin to use a  comma before “through” if and when the sentence structure restricts it.

To understand more about how commas work specifically before the word “yesterday,” let us consider the next set of guidelines.


Using a comma before “yesterday”

Although using a comma before “yesterday” seems a bit confusing on the surface, the rules aren’t really that complicated.

These guidelines should help you decide when to use a comma before “yesterday” in any writing context.


Comma before “yesterday” in the middle of the sentence

“Yesterday” would need a comma before it somewhere in the middle of the sentence when it is preceded by an introductory expression.

Introductory expressions are set off with necessary commas to make transitions and contexts clearer to readers.

An example of an introductory phrase is “after all,” which is used to suggest the meaning “at the end of the day” or “ultimately.”
In writing, a comma before “after all” would also be needed when another introductory expression comes before it.

As you may figure, the same rule applies to “yesterday” when it appears after any introductory word or phrase, which also applies to any other word.

To really see what the explanation means, here’s an example for you:


Luckily, yesterday, there were no customer complaints.

If we think about it, “luckily” and “yesterday” are both used as introductory words to the main idea in the example above.

So, setting them off with commas would be a must, or else the reader would just read the sentence out monotonously.


Comma before “yesterday” at the end of the sentence

“Yesterday” used towards the end of the sentence may need a pre-comma too, particularly when it is preceded by an interruptive thought.

Interruptive thoughts may also be called “side comments” or “afterthoughts” in spoken contexts. They are great stylistic devices because they make sentences more meaningful.

These interruptive thoughts are also called “parenthetical comments,” and they are added to make the expression of ideas richer.

As interruptive thoughts are additional stylistic devices, they are not necessarily part of the sentence and are thus removable.

Because of this, commas are placed around interruptive thoughts all the time. These commas are used to mark what we may refer to as the “grammatical dispensability” of these side thoughts.

A side comment that comes before “yesterday” placed at the end of the sentence would prompt a necessary pre-comma, just like in the next example:


They did not come here, as expected, yesterday.


As you can see, “as expected” is the interruptive expression in the example above. The commas around it make readers realize this circumstance.


Comma before “yesterday” after a time zone

Time zones are set off with commas like parenthetical expressions. That said, we can also understand that they are also used as “additional information pieces.”

A comma before a time zone is usually needed when a clock time comes before it. Hence, a closing comma would also be needed if the sentence continues after it.

When “yesterday” is used after a clock time and a time zone, a pre-comma is, therefore, necessary too.

Consider the next example for more clarity:


The peace negotiations started at 2 p.m., Central Daylight Time, yesterday.


As you can see the time zone “Central Daylight Time” should be treated as a parenthetical piece of information because of its additive purpose.

Being an additive idea, it enriches the meaning of the host sentence, thereby giving a clearer and more specific time reference.

When the time zone, however, is used as a restricted part of the sentence, such as the subject or object, no comma should be used around it.


Comma before “yesterday” after a direct address

The use of a direct address or vocative expression also determines comma placement before the adverb “yesterday.”

Direct addresses are names that we use to refer directly to the message receiver. That said, they are not used in “talking about” but rather “talking to” a person or any other addressee.

A comma before or after a direct address or name is mandatory in formal writing scenarios; in fact, this is a default rule that we have to bear in mind for grammatical consistency.

Although dropping the comma before a vocative expression is often practiced in casual writing contexts, such as direct messaging, this is something we have to avoid.

The commas that we use before or after direct addresses prevent ambiguity in referencing the receiver of the message and are, therefore, crucial.

Clearly, it follows that a comma before “yesterday” would always be necessary when it comes after a direct address.

Here’s an example of what is meant by the explanation above:


John, yesterday was a blast!


As you may figure, the comma after the direct addressee’s name “John” helps readers understand that the message is intended directly for John.

By this point, you should already know that following comma rules is key to communicating without having any fear of misinterpretation.

If these series of explanations do not suffice, you may also freely refer to our comma cheat sheet for a more general set of guidelines that are written in a compact format.


Comma before “yesterday” introducing an appositive phrase

Appositive phrases work like interruptive thoughts too. Because of this, commas are also needed to set them off from the rest of the sentence.

In English grammar, the use of appositive phrases is necessary for making a noun more specifically defined.

Appositive phrases can either be grammatically essential or nonessential, depending on the sentence structure and referencing.

Only nonessential appositive phrases need commas around because they are added for making sentences less vague.

From this angle, we can already understand that a comma should also come before “yesterday” when it is used to introduce a nonessential appositive phrase.

Here’s an example of what that would look like:


Atty. Jacob Schwartz, yesterday’s resource speaker, is one of the best legal advisors in Miami.


As you can see “yesterday’s resource speaker” is the nonessential appositive phrase in the example shown. 

Exchanging the placement of the subject and the nonessential would result in what we would meanwhile call an essential appositive phrase, wherein the comma becomes irrelevant.


Yesterday’s resource speaker Atty. Jacob Schwartz is one of the best legal advisors in Miami.


Obviously enough, no comma should be used before “yesterday” in the example above because it is already used to begin a sentence.


Not using a comma before “yesterday”

If there are conditions that dictate the necessary comma usage before “yesterday,” there are also conditions that govern its removal.

Here are the two cases in which we do not need to use a comma before “yesterday” because of grammatical conventions.


No comma before “yesterday” as a regular adverb of time

Apart from the specific usages of “yesterday” in the previous section, we can also use it as a regular adverb in a sentence.

When this happens, “yesterday” gets to become an essential or restrictive part of the sentence in which it is used.

Apparently, no comma should be used before “yesterday” if and when its meaning is grammatically restricted to the sentence.

The idea of grammatical restriction simply suggests that the sentence would not fully make sense without the word or phrase being referred to.

So, when “yesterday” is used such as in the next example, remember never to use a comma before it.


You left the keys inside the car yesterday.


In the example above, “yesterday” is a restricted part of the sentence because it is used to modify the main verb “left.”

In other words, the adverb “yesterday” is needed in completing the whole unit of the meaning of the sentence where it is used.


No comma before “yesterday” as a proper noun

At other times, “yesterday” may also be used as a noun rather than an adverb of time. This happens, for example, when using it as a title of a song, book, or movie.

As long as the noun usage of the word “yesterday” does not belong to any of the conditions that entail the pre-comma usage, no comma should come before it.

More specifically, the proper noun usage of “yesterday” can take place when it is used either as the subject or object of the sentence.

Take a look at this example:


“Yesterday” was composed by Paul McCartney.


Clearly enough, no comma should also come before the proper noun usage of “yesterday” when it is used as the object of the sentence.


Paul McCartney passionately performed “Yesterday” in New York City back in 1965.


Frequently Asked Questions on “Comma Before ‘Yesterday’”


What does “yesterday” mean?

Yesterday is an adverb of time that suggests the meaning “the day before the relative today.” That said, we could say that it is the complete opposite of the word “tomorrow.”


Where do you put “yesterday” in a sentence?

In most cases, adverbs of time go after the verb. However, adverbs of time can also be used either at the beginning or end of the sentence. Its placement depends on what the writer or speaker wants to emphasize.


When do we need a comma before “today” at the end of the sentence?

A comma before “today” at the end of the sentence is necessary mostly when it is preceded by an interruptive comment, which can either be a word, phrase, or even a clause.