Do You Put a Comma After “Today”?

The English language is a complex system of rules and exceptions, where a small punctuation mark like a comma can change the entire meaning or flow of a sentence. An often debated topic is the use of the word "today" and the correct placement of commas around it. This article aims to shed light on this subject, providing comprehensive guidelines and examples.

Understanding the Term "Today"

In English grammar, "today" is an adverb of time. It is used to refer to the present day or the current era. The term "today" is versatile and can be used in different positions in a sentence without changing its meaning. As an adverb, it typically modifies a verb and answers the question of when an action occurs.

For example, in the sentence, "I will go to the market today," the term "today" modifies the verb "go" by providing information about the timing of the action. You can place "today" at the beginning or end of the sentence without altering the meaning. However, its placement can impact how and where commas are used.

General Rules for Comma Usage with "Today"

The general rule is that you do not need a comma after "today" unless it is at the start of a sentence and is followed by a pause. If "today" is used at the beginning of a sentence and is followed by a clause or phrase that stands alone, then a comma should be used. For example, "Today, it is raining."

However, when "today" is used in the middle or end of a sentence, it usually does not require a comma. The exception to this rule is when "today" is used as an interjection or for emphasis, in which case a comma might be warranted.

Examples in Context

The placement of "today" in a sentence and the context can determine whether it requires a comma. Here are some examples to illustrate this.

Without a comma

Sentence Correct/Incorrect Explanation
"I will go to the market today." Correct "Today" is at the end of the sentence and does not require a comma.
"Today I will go to the market." Correct "Today" is at the beginning of the sentence but is not followed by a pause, so no comma is needed.
"I have a meeting today at 4 PM." Correct "Today" is in the middle of the sentence and does not require a comma.

With a comma

Sentence Correct/Incorrect Explanation
"Today, it is raining." Correct "Today" is at the beginning of the sentence and is followed by a pause, so a comma is needed.
"I will go to the market, today." Incorrect "Today" is at the end of the sentence and does not require a comma. Using a comma here is incorrect.
"I have a meeting, today, at 4 PM." Incorrect "Today" is in the middle of the sentence and does not require a comma. Using a comma here is incorrect.

Common Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

One common mistake is using a comma after "today" when it's at the end or the middle of a sentence. This is generally unnecessary and can disrupt the flow of the sentence. To avoid this, remember that "today" does not require a comma when it is in the middle or at the end of a sentence, unless it is used for emphasis or as an interjection.

Another mistake is omitting a comma after "today" when it is at the beginning of a sentence and is followed by a pause. To avoid this, always use a comma after "today" when it is at the beginning of a sentence and is followed by a standalone clause or phrase.

Quick Recap and Key Takeaways

English punctuation, especially comma usage, can be tricky. However, understanding the rules can make the process easier.

Here are the key points to remember when it comes to using commas with "today":

  • If "today" is at the beginning of a sentence and is followed by a pause, use a comma.
  • If "today" is at the middle or the end of a sentence, it usually does not need a comma unless it's used for emphasis or as an interjection.
  • Always consider the context and the placement of "today" in a sentence before deciding to use a comma.

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