Do You Put a Comma After “Today”?

Using the word “today” in sentences is common, but whether to follow it with a comma can sometimes be confusing. This guide will clarify when to use a comma after “today,” complete with rules and examples for different scenarios.

Understanding Commas After “Today”

Rule 1: Beginning a Sentence

Beginning a Sentence

When “today” starts a sentence and is followed by an independent clause, it’s often a matter of style whether to use a comma. However, adding a comma can make the sentence clearer.

Correct Examples:

  • “Today, we will learn about the importance of commas.”
  • “Today, the weather is particularly lovely.”

Incorrect Examples:

  • “Today we will learn about the importance of commas.” (Still acceptable, but a comma can enhance clarity.)
  • “Today the weather is particularly lovely.” (Again, still acceptable without a comma, but clarity is key.)

Rule 2: In the Middle of a Sentence

When “today” is used in the middle of a sentence, whether you use a comma depends on its function. If “today” introduces a pause or is used parenthetically, use commas around it.

Correct Examples:

  • “We will, today, cover the new chapter.”
  • “The meeting was postponed to, today, due to unforeseen circumstances.”

Incorrect Examples:

  • “We will today, cover the new chapter.”
  • “The meeting was postponed to today, due to unforeseen circumstances.”

Rule 3: Before an Independent Clause

Before an Independent Clause

If “today” precedes an independent clause elsewhere in a sentence, a comma is not typically used unless “today” ends an introductory phrase or clause.

Correct Examples:

  • “The plan for today includes a visit to the museum.”
  • “Our special, today, is grilled salmon.”

Incorrect Examples:

  • “The plan for today, includes a visit to the museum.”
  • “Our special today, is grilled salmon.”

Rule 4: At the End of a Sentence

When “today” concludes a sentence, you do not need to place a comma before it unless it’s part of a series or an afterthought.

Correct Examples:

  • “The assignment is due today.”
  • “I’ve completed all my tasks for today.”

Incorrect Examples:

  • “The assignment is due, today.”
  • “I’ve completed all my tasks for, today.”

Rule 5: With Dates

When “today” is used with a specific date, place a comma after “today” if the sentence continues.

Correct Examples:

  • “Today, February 13th, is my birthday.”
  • “Today, April 4th, we start our new project.”

Incorrect Examples:

  • “Today February 13th is my birthday.”
  • “Today April 4th we start our new project.”

Rule 6: As a Transitional Device

As a Transitional Device

If “today” is used as a transitional device to connect two independent clauses, use a comma before and after “today” when it’s in the middle of the sentence.

Correct Examples:

  • “We had planned to start the seminar in the morning. Today, however, we faced some technical difficulties.”
  • “The team was ready to present. Today, though, they asked for a postponement.”

Incorrect Examples:

  • “We had planned to start the seminar in the morning. Today however, we faced some technical difficulties.”
  • “The team was ready to present. Today though, they asked for a postponement.”

Rule 7: “Today” in Direct Address

When addressing someone directly and using “today” to specify the time, a comma after “today” can separate the addressed person’s name or title from the rest of the sentence.

Correct Examples:

  • “Today, class, we will learn about ecosystems.”
  • “Today, team, we focus on our goals for the quarter.”

Incorrect Examples:

  • “Today class, we will learn about ecosystems.”
  • “Today team, we focus on our goals for the quarter.”

Rule 8: Emphasizing “Today”

To emphasize “today” specifically in a sentence, you might use commas to isolate it, especially if it’s used to contrast with other times.

Correct Examples:

  • “The focus, today, is entirely on improving customer service.”
  • “Our main priority, today, is to finalize the project.”

Incorrect Examples:

  • “The focus today is entirely on improving customer service.”
  • “Our main priority today is to finalize the project.”

Rule 9: “Today” in Lists

When “today” is part of a list, follow standard comma rules for lists. If “today” is the last item before a conjunction, it doesn’t need a comma after it.

Correct Examples:

  • “We need to buy groceries, clean the house, and finish our work today.”
  • “Today, tomorrow, and next week are all booked solid.”

Incorrect Examples:

  • “We need to buy groceries, clean the house and finish our work, today.”
  • “Today, tomorrow and next week, are all booked solid.”

Rule 10: “Today” for Clarity

Sometimes, the decision to use a comma after “today” is purely for clarity. If the sentence could be misunderstood without the comma, then it’s best to use it.

Correct Examples:

  • “To finish, today, would be impossible.”
  • “To start, today, seems the best option.”

Incorrect Examples:

  • “To finish today would be impossible.” (This could imply that finishing today is impossible, rather than finishing the task today.)
  • “To start today seems the best option.” (Less ambiguous, but the comma can still add clarity.)

Using commas with “today” effectively hinges on understanding the role “today” plays in your sentence. Whether it’s acting as an adverb of time, introducing a clause, or emphasizing a point, the correct use of commas can significantly impact the readability and clarity of your sentences.

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