I've read in grammar books that "whereas" is a kind of conjunctive adverb and should be placed at the first of a sentence or else it have to be followed by a semicolon. But I've seen in many books that they just put a comma before it, so I am a little bit confused.

For instance look at the following examples:

  1. Back in the day, people would frequently go out to meet friends, whereas today they prefer to stay at home alone, chatting online.

  2. The number of people who use smart phones is increasing; whereas, the proportion of people go out for leisure activity is decreasing.

From grammar books, I feel like the second form is correct, but I have seen the first form of punctuation as well.

1 Answer 1


Your first example is certainly far more common usage than the second. It is quite rare to need punctuation both before and after a single word, and that is not one of them.

Indeed, I cannot think of any example in common, modern usage where a semi-colon would come directly after "whereas" - that word is mainly used to join two phrases, whereas a semi-colon is used to separate them.

  • But I am sure that I've read in every single grammar text that when you use a conjunctive adverb, put a semicolon (;) before it and a comma (,) after it!
    – a.toraby
    Commented Oct 31, 2020 at 3:21
  • English is not governed by "rules of grammar" it is governed by "common usage" - that is one of the reason's it is is known (over here) as "The Queen's English". Do a search on Google for "whereas", with and without a trailing comma, and see which gives more results.
    – MikeB
    Commented Nov 2, 2020 at 9:46

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