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  Tips for Writers by Brad Hyde (February 14, 2010)

Does that Clause take a Comma?

Because it’s a good idea to vary your sentences, you’ll need to learn how to use subordinate clauses.

Here’s a good rule to follow: When the subordinate clause precedes the main clause, use a comma to separate them.

For example:

Unless you know a great deal about Mathematics, stay away from Calculus 12.


Stay away from Calculus 12 unless you know a great deal about Mathematics.

You may insert a comma before “unless” if you wish to give the subordinate clause special emphasis. Otherwise, leave the comma out. Try writing a few samples of your own that use the same elements using main clause first then main clause second.

Also, note that varying the order of the complex sentences you use helps with the rule of variety.

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