Is There a Comma After “Specifically”?

Understanding the correct use of “specifically” in sentences is crucial for clear communication. This guide will help you determine when to use a comma after “specifically” through simple rules and examples.

When to Use a Comma After “Specifically”

Rule 1: Starting a Sentence

Correct Usage:

  • Specifically, the study focuses on climate change.
  • Specifically, she was interested in Renaissance art.

Incorrect Usage:

  • Specifically the study focuses on climate change.
  • Specifically she was interested in Renaissance art.

Explanation: Begin sentences with “specifically” followed by a comma to separate the introductory word from the main statement.

Rule 2: In the Middle of a Sentence

Correct Usage:

  • The plan, specifically the budget, needs a review.
  • Our strategy, specifically in marketing, will evolve.

Incorrect Usage:

  • The plan specifically the budget needs a review.
  • Our strategy specifically in marketing will evolve.

Explanation: Use commas around “specifically” when it introduces additional, specific information in the middle of a sentence.

Rule 3: Before “Specifically” in a List

Correct Usage:

  • We need several items, specifically, paper, pens, and notebooks.
  • The project requires skills in many areas, specifically, coding and design.

Incorrect Usage:

  • We need several items specifically paper, pens, and notebooks.
  • The project requires skills in many areas specifically coding and design.

Explanation: When “specifically” introduces specific items in a list, it is often preceded by a comma and followed by another if it’s not the last item.

Rule 4: “Specifically” Without Commas for Direct Addition

Correct Usage:

  • She requested specifically red flowers.
  • He studies specifically marine biology.

Incorrect Usage:

  • She requested, specifically, red flowers.
  • He studies, specifically, marine biology.

Explanation: When “specifically” directly modifies a noun without interrupting the sentence flow, do not use commas.

Rule 5: After “Specifically” for Emphasis

Correct Usage:

  • The instructions were clear, specifically to arrive before noon.
  • The policy applies to everyone, specifically employees and contractors.

Incorrect Usage:

  • The instructions were clear specifically to arrive before noon.
  • The policy applies to everyone specifically employees and contractors.

Explanation: Use a comma after “specifically” when it is used to emphasize or clarify a point towards the end of a sentence.

Read More: Do You Put a Comma After “Once”?

Rule 6: “Specifically” with Conjunctions

Correct Usage:

  • This rule applies to all members, specifically, those in leadership positions, and requires immediate attention.
  • The budget cuts will affect many departments, specifically, research and development, but not until next year.

Incorrect Usage:

  • This rule applies to all members specifically those in leadership positions and requires immediate attention.
  • The budget cuts will affect many departments specifically research and development but not until next year.

Explanation: When “specifically” is used with conjunctions to add emphasis or detail, enclose it with commas for clarity.

Rule 7: Emphasizing a Phrase

Correct Usage:

  • He was looking for a gift, specifically for a rare book.
  • They wanted to visit Europe, specifically Italy and France.

Incorrect Usage:

  • He was looking for a gift specifically for a rare book.
  • They wanted to visit Europe specifically Italy and France.

Explanation: Use a comma before “specifically” when it emphasizes a following phrase, enhancing the sentence’s clarity.

Rule 8: “Specifically” in Formal Writing

Correct Usage:

  • In formal documents, specifically, contracts and agreements, precision is key.
  • The guidelines, specifically those related to safety, must be followed.

Incorrect Usage:

  • In formal documents specifically contracts and agreements precision is key.
  • The guidelines specifically those related to safety must be followed.

Explanation: In formal writing, “specifically” often requires commas to separate it from the rest of the sentence, maintaining a professional tone.

Rule 9: Avoiding Commas for Direct Modifiers

Correct Usage:

  • The software specifically targets small businesses.
  • This course specifically addresses advanced topics.

Incorrect Usage:

  • The software, specifically, targets small businesses.
  • This course, specifically, addresses advanced topics.

Explanation: Do not use commas when “specifically” directly modifies a verb or noun, as it is integral to the sentence’s meaning.

Rule 10: “Specifically” for Clarity

Correct Usage:

  • The charity, specifically, aims to help children in need.
  • The regulations, specifically those enacted last year, have been effective.

Incorrect Usage:

  • The charity specifically aims to help children in need.
  • The regulations specifically those enacted last year have been effective.

Explanation: Use commas when “specifically” is employed to add clarity or specify a particular aspect or group, ensuring the sentence remains well-structured and understandable.

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