I know that we don't often add a comma before a preposition, but I HAVE seen commas coming before prepositions like "despite" and "before" from time to time. However, I'm not 100% sure that the sources where I've seen these instances are reliable; moreover, I have once been told by a native speaker that a comma before these two prepositions is unnecessary. Look at this example:

Mexico’s kiwi fruit exports started at 6 million New Zealand dollars in 2010, after which it experienced a significant decline to hit a trough of 2.4 million in 2011, before recovering to end the period at 3.3 million.

I think that the comma before the preposition here creates a nice pause because, without it, it seems that the second clause is a bit too long. Furthermore, the comma separates different trends in Mexico's kiwi fruit exports and makes the sentence more comprehensible. So, can I add a comma before a preposition just because I feel that the sentence needs a pause?

P.S. One more concern about this is consistency. If adding a comma before a preposition is a matter of style, do I have to consistently do that in one essay, or just do it wherever needed?

  • Side note: what is the antecedent of "it" in your sentence?
    – TimR
    Commented Apr 27 at 14:03
  • @TimR Mexico's kiwi fruit exports. I used "it" because I thought "exports" here refer to the export value. Commented Apr 28 at 7:57
  • 1
    Would be better to use the singular "export" or the phrase "export revenue" or "they" in place of "it" if you use "exports".
    – TimR
    Commented Apr 28 at 10:00

1 Answer 1


Yes, it's usually fine to use a comma to mark a pause in a long sentence, for example where a speaker might pause for breath. Whether or not it's before a preposition makes no difference.

It follows from this that, because you happen to have put a comma before a preposition in one sentence, you do not have to put one before every preposition!

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