Does the word "then" always take a comma after it? I have two sentences:

"Then, go ahead and do it."

"I'm waiting for the package to arrive at my house, and then, I'll go to the store."

Do those sentences require a comma after "then"? What about for the word "now"?

"Now, it's my turn."

I think that a comma isn't required after "then" but is always required after "now." Am I wrong?

  • Yes, you are wrong. A comma is not required. In both cases it is a matter of style. – P. E. Dant Reinstate Monica Nov 6 '16 at 23:09
  • Dant, does the rule of style still apply if "that" comes after "now" in a sentence? For example: "Now, that's a fast car!" In that sentence, would it still be style, or would it be wrong because the word "that" goes after it? – Tim Nov 6 '16 at 23:44
  • There is no such thing as a "rule of style." Please understand that there is no rule governing this usage. It is entirely up to the writer. No usage would be "right" or "wrong". A comma is not "always required" after "now". – P. E. Dant Reinstate Monica Nov 7 '16 at 0:13
  • So, Dant, commas around words such as "now" "then" "tomorrow" "yesterday" and "sometimes" are all style, correct? I can choose to have or not to have a comma after them? – Tim Nov 7 '16 at 1:20
  • When to use comma after time adverbs does ask a similar question but was not fully answered. – EnglishTeacherEric Nov 7 '16 at 4:07

Tim, the short answer is that it depends. There is more room for debate on the comma-or-no-comma question when we talk about words like "however" at the beginning of a sentence. In those cases, grammar 'traditionalists' will probably argue that you need it while people like me (who believe that language is more about function than rules) would say that you can do without it.

As P.E. Dant correctly pointed out, this is a matter of style. However ;-) I find that putting a comma after "then" and "now" is so rare that it would even be distracting to read it in a narrative.

At the end of the day, the important thing is to be consistent. Wherever you are writing or contributing content, check to see if they use it (and "they" could be your own body of work). From the point of view of non-traditionalists, any style used with intentionality is permissible.

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