I’m a grammar geek; I’ll admit it. This morning I sat down at my desk and tried to think of something to write for this Super Grammar. Two hours later I was still reading from the Chicago Manual of Style (CMOS). Chapter 6 on punctuation draws me in every time. (It helps that I’ve consulted this chapter so many times, my book falls open to it.)
Sometimes CMOS seems to contradict itself. Take, for example, the rules about conjunctive adverbs such as however, therefore, and indeed. One rule tells us to use commas to set off these adverbs, another says commas are unnecessary, and yet another tells us to use a semicolon paired with a comma. Let’s look at these rules and some examples to help clear this up.
Use commas to set off conjunctive adverbs:
But commas are usually unnecessary when the adverb is essential to the meaning of the clause or if the emphasis is on the adverb itself:
Precede certain adverbs with a semicolon when they are used to join two independent clauses. (These conjunctions include however, thus, hence, indeed, accordingly, besides, and therefore. A comma usually follows the adverb but may be omitted if the sentence is just as effective without it.)
I know; I know. That’s a lot to remember and it’s probably still a bit confusing. Trust me; this is the reason my CMOS falls open to Chapter 6.
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