I read the following sentence in a book:

In war, leaving a single enemy alive to tell the story allows fear to spread.

Why is there a comma after in war? As I understand it, there is a participial turn, but since it comes after, we should not put a comma. Or am I wrong and this is not a participial turn?

  • In that sentence, "leaving" is a gerund, not a participle.
    – Ben Kovitz
    Mar 27, 2021 at 2:35

2 Answers 2


Prepositional phrases that start a sentence are generally ended with a comma. This helps prevent confusion in introducing the subject.

If it were

In war leaving a single enemy alive ...

Would misdirect readers to initially think that "war" is leaving. When you say

In war, leaving a single enemy alive ...

It is clear that the prepositional phrase indicates a situation that applies to the statement, but is not participating as part of the subject.

  • thanks you for help
    – Omegon
    Mar 28, 2021 at 8:24

It’s not due to the participial phrase after the comma; it’s due to the introductory (in this case, prepositional) phrase before the comma.

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