Is There a Comma Before “Until”?

Understanding when to use a comma before “until” can enhance the clarity and flow of your writing. “Until” is a conjunction that connects two parts of a sentence, indicating a time frame or condition.

This article outlines the rules and provides examples to guide you on when to use a comma before “until.”

When to Use a Comma Before “Until”

When to Use a Comma Before "Until"

Rule 1: Connecting Independent Clauses

When “until” is used to connect two independent clauses, a comma is usually not needed unless the sentence structure makes it necessary for clarity or emphasis.

Correct Examples:

  • “I can’t leave until you arrive.”
  • “Keep trying until you succeed.”

Incorrect Examples:

  • “I can’t leave, until you arrive.”
  • “Keep trying, until you succeed.”

Rule 2: Beginning Sentences

When “until” begins a sentence, it introduces a dependent clause that leads into the main clause, which does not require a comma after “until.”

Correct Examples:

  • “Until the rain stops, we cannot begin the match.”
  • “Until you hear the signal, do not move.”

Incorrect Examples:

  • “Until, the rain stops we cannot begin the match.”
  • “Until, you hear the signal do not move.”

Rule 3: Indicating a Degree or Manner

 Indicating a Degree or Manner

“Until” does not typically indicate a degree or manner; it specifies a time frame or condition. Therefore, this rule does not apply to “until” as it might to adverbs.

Rule 4: Before an Adjective or Adverb

Since “until” is not used directly before an adjective or adverb, this rule is not applicable.

Rule 5: In the Middle of Sentences

When “until” is used in the middle of a sentence to introduce a necessary condition or time frame, a comma before “until” is generally not required.

Correct Examples:

  • “You must wait until the light turns green.”
  • “She didn’t know happiness until she met you.”

Incorrect Examples:

  • “You must wait, until the light turns green.”
  • “She didn’t know happiness, until she met you.”

Rule 6: After a Dependent Clause

If “until” follows a dependent clause at the beginning of a sentence, place a comma after the clause and before the main clause, not directly before “until.”

Correct Examples:

  • “Until you complete your homework, you cannot play video games.”
  • “Until the sun sets, we have time to explore.”

Incorrect Examples:

  • “Until, you complete your homework you cannot play video games.”
  • “Until, the sun sets we have time to explore.”

Rule 7: “Until” with Parenthetical Elements

If “until” introduces a clause that could be considered parenthetical (extra information that could be removed without altering the meaning of the sentence), then commas can be used around the clause.

Correct Examples:

  • “We must continue, until we are told otherwise, to follow the plan.”
  • “The park, until further notice, will remain closed.”

Incorrect Examples:

  • “We must continue until, we are told otherwise, to follow the plan.”
  • “The park until, further notice, will remain closed.”

Rule 8: “Until” in Complex Sentences

In complex sentences where “until” introduces a subordinate clause that is essential to the main clause’s meaning, no comma is needed before “until.”

Correct Examples:

  • “I will be at the library until closing time.”
  • “They did not stop working until the job was done.”

Incorrect Examples:

  • “I will be at the library, until closing time.”
  • “They did not stop working, until the job was done.”

Understanding the correct usage of commas with “until” can significantly improve the readability and precision of your writing. Keep these rules in mind as you craft sentences to ensure clear and effective communication.

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