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I learned English long time ago. The native speaker teacher told me that we always use comma after the word then. However, one proofreader told me that I must not write a comma after then. I am really confuse. Could some one please explain to me when it is correct to use comma with then?

For example,

Then, the next step is estimating the model parameters.

Set x as a first point, then, find the point y given x.

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  • Could you add a few examples of either case?
    – CinCout
    Feb 28, 2019 at 5:42

2 Answers 2

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There are some circumstances that a comma should be used after then:

"It is good, then, that you wish to learn more."

But your examples aren't such circumstances. When using then to indicate a sequence of events, either in reporting events or giving instructions, it should not normally have a comma (though there are always exceptions, like there being a parenthetical clause immediately after it). When used in a similar sense to therefore, it may or may not want a comma after it - to the same standards as if you were using the word therefore.

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Then can be used as an adverb, conjunction, noun, and an adjective. There is no definitive answer to your question because

  • as it frequently introduces a dependent phrase, however, a comma would be placed at the end of the independent phrase or clause which precedes it.
  • The use of a comma is more art than science. What’s ‘correct’ varies depending on the sense and composition of a sentence. In general, you should probably place a comma at every point where you would pause if you were reading the words you’re writing out loud. It’s virtually mandatory to use them to separate words or phrases in a list (They were red, white, smooth in texture, and triangular in shape). They’re also very helpful in setting-off clauses that:
  • describe separate actions (went to the office; left for the airport)
  • communicate descriptive information that’s important but without which the rest of the sentence would still make sense (around noon). Some people use commas a lot more than others. As a ‘rule of thumb’: if your sentence needs too many commas, it needs to be re-written and you probably have clauses in it that should be sentences on their own. Conjunctive adverbs are followed by a comma. Examples:
  • I ate, then I started home.( adverb )
  • Read the instructions well , then start answering. (conjunction )

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