Comma After “Then” – Rules, Examples & Practice Sheet

30.12.23 Commas Time to read: 6min

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Many students are having difficulty using commas correctly in academic writing, especially when it comes to the adjective, adverb, and conjunction “then.” This frequently results in errors and ambiguity, which are attributed to a lack of comprehension of the regulations and exceptions pertaining to the usage of commas. To aid in elucidating this matter, this article will provide guidance on when to utilize a comma after “then,” furnish examples, and address any exceptions to the standard.

When to place a comma after “then”

Typically, if “then” follows a semicolon, you put a comma after “then.” You also put a comma after “then” if it functions as a parenthetical clause, also called an interjection. You do not need a comma after “then” if it functions as an adverb of time or introductory word.

Comma

After a semicolon

Interjection

No comma

Adverb of time

Introductory word

Some complex sentences may have exceptions to the standard comma placement rules, and various Style Guides may have different rules regarding the use of commas. It’s important to make sure your sentence is clear and complete when contemplating whether a comma is needed or not.

Comma after “then”

There are only two cases when a comma after “then” should be placed. If a semicolon is placed before “then,” then you put a comma after “then.” Additionally, if “then” is used as an interjection in a sentence, you place a comma after “then.”

After a semicolon

When a semicolon is placed directly before “then,” a comma is used after “then” to structure the sentence properly, especially when “then” is part of a compound sentence serving as a transitional adverb or conjunctive adverb. This structure helps in clearly delineating the parts of the sentence, indicating a pause or break in thought, and ensuring smooth flow and clarity.

Examples

  • She completed her work early; then, she decided to go for a walk.
  • The weather turned stormy; then, the power went out.
  • He forgot his umbrella at home; then, he got caught in the rain.

Interjection

When “then” is used as an interjection, a comma follows, indicating a pause. This signals “then” functioning as a brief exclamation or standalone remark, not integral to the sentence’s grammatical structure. This usage of “then” as an interjection typically conveys reaction, realization, or sudden thought shift, with the comma separating this interjection from the rest of the sentence for clarity and emphasis.

Examples

  • Well, then, I’ll leave you to study.
  • You disagree? Oh, then, I’ll have to reconsider.
  • I suppose, then, we’re at the wrong address.

No comma after “then”

A comma after “then” is, generally speaking, not used when “then” is used as an adverb indicating a sequence or consequence. When “then” serves as an introductory phrase, a comma also does not follow it. The key is to avoid unnecessary commas after “then” in simple sentence structures, where it functions as an adverb connecting two clauses.

Adverb of time

When “then” serves as an adverb of time indicating a sequence of events or a specific time, a comma is typically not used after it. This is because “then” is seamlessly connecting the temporal relationship between two clauses, and a comma is not necessary to separate them in this context. The absence of a comma maintains the smooth flow of the sentence and helps to clearly convey the chronological order of events.

Examples

  • She finished her work and then went for a walk in the park.
  • First, we’ll discuss the plan then we’ll implement it.
  • He completed his homework and then joined his friends for dinner.

Introductory word

When “then” introduces a sentence, a comma is generally not used after it. This is because “then” is often functions as a transitional or conjunctive adverb at the beginning of the sentence, indicating a logical consequence or sequence. In these cases, the absence of a comma helps maintain a smooth and direct connection between the preceding and following clauses, enhancing the flow of the sentence.

Examples

  • She missed the bus. Then she decided to take a taxi to work.
  • The rain started pouring. Then everyone rushed indoors.
  • I forgot to buy groceries. Then I had to make do with what was in the pantry.

Test yourself!

Practice sheet

To evaluate your understanding of using commas after the word “then,” attempt to correctly place them in the designated positions within the 10 sentences. Following this, you can check the second tab to confirm if your comprehension is accurate.

  1. You think I should reconsider? Hmm then maybe I’ll take another look.
  2. First, we’ll have a meeting then we’ll address any concerns.
  3. He received the invitation. Then he began planning his trip to the wedding.
  4. The concert ended; then the crowd erupted into applause.
  5. We visited the museum; then we explored the nearby park.
  6. He finished his chores and then went to the store for groceries.
  7. The rain stopped; then we went for a walk in the fresh air.
  8. She forgot her umbrella and then got caught in the rain.
  9. We had a fantastic dinner and then watched a movie at home.
  10. You’re leaving already? Well then have a safe journey!
  1. You think I should reconsider? Hmm, then, maybe I’ll take another look. (Comma)
  2. First, we’ll have a meeting, then we’ll address any concerns. (No comma)
  3. He received the invitation. Then he began planning his trip to the wedding. (No comma)
  4. The concert ended; then, the crowd erupted into applause. (Comma)
  5. We visited the museum; then, we explored the nearby park. (Comma)
  6. He finished his chores and then went to the store for groceries. (No comma)
  7. The rain stopped; then, we went for a walk in the fresh air. (Comma)
  8. She forgot her umbrella and then got caught in the rain. (No comma)
  9. We had a fantastic dinner and then watched a movie at home. (No comma)
  10. You’re leaving already? Well, then, have a safe journey! (Comma)
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FAQs

You use a comma after “then” in these cases:

  • When “then” is used after a semicolon
  • When it functions as an interjection in a sentence

You do not put a comma after “then” when this is the case:

  • When “then” is used as an adverb of time
  • When it introduces a sentence

In standard English usage, a comma is not typically placed between “then” and “if” when they appear together in a sentence. The conjunction “if” is often used to introduce a conditional clause, and “then” can follow it without a comma in numerous instances. However, in this case, a comma was placed before “then.”

Example

  • If you finish your homework, then you can go out to play.

In most cases, a comma is not necessary after “since then”. It’s an idiomatic expression indicating a point in time, and it is often used as an adverbial phrase at the beginning of a sentence or clause to denote a period that started in the past and continues up to the present.

“Then” is a versatile word that can be used in various ways in a sentence:

  • Adverb
  • Adjective
  • Conjunction