# Grammatically speaking, should I put a comma in the following introductory clause?

After having a green salad and black coffee for breakfast(,) and putting on her white cap and black hoodie, Mary went to university to meet her professor.

At first, I thought I had to put a comma because these were two introductory clauses ... but maybe it's only one? Maybe there's a punctuation rule related to clauses with many "and's"?

Anyhow, grammatically speaking, should there be a comma behind breakfast? Why or why not?

Another example (I'm not sure if it's the same problem):

In those nice clothes(,) and sitting under the sunset, he looked quite charming.

• A green salad for breakfast? Weird! Sep 6, 2019 at 18:26
• @BillJ Weird, I thought it was common. (I live in Asia.)
– wyc
Sep 7, 2019 at 6:56

The two introductory clauses are independent - because she is having breakfast and putting on her hat and coat.

You wouldn't need a comma if you were saying:

After having a green salad and black coffee for breakfast and a bagel and orange juice for lunch, she was quite full.

This is because the two clauses are both about eating.

I think the comma belongs in your sentence, but you should add:

After having a green salad and black coffee for breakfast, and after putting on her white cap and black hoodie, Mary went to university to meet her professor.

I think this is necessary because once the clauses are separated you need to state that the second clause is past tense. If you don't like the repetition you could say "and once she had put on..." or something else.

• But I think it would be grammatical to say: "After eating salad and putting on her hat, she went to university"? Which is the simplified version of my example?
– wyc
Sep 6, 2019 at 12:39
• After having a green salad and black coffee for breakfast(,) and putting on her white cap and black hoodie, Mary went to university to meet her professor.

That sentence can be improved by adding then.

• After having a green salad and black coffee for breakfast and then putting on her white cap and black hoodie, Mary went to university to meet her professor.

Yes, you need a comma.

You would not need a comma if it were written like this:

• Mary went to university to meet her professor after having a green salad and black coffee for breakfast and putting on her white cap and black hoodie.

A clause that uses a preposition of time (such as after, before and when) cannot be an independent clause.

If you place it at the beginning of the sentence, it needs a comma to show the sequence of events. Events can be reported out of sequence but the comma shows what they actually were:

• He left the house after locking the front door. versus
• After locking the front door, he left the house.

There are stylistic reasons only for placing a time clause at the beginning. There is no grammatical reason for it.

• So what's the grammatical reason it needs a comma?
– wyc
Sep 6, 2019 at 13:30