Grammar Rules for Putting a Comma Before But


Commas help every reader to look out for the words that go together within a sentence. It also helps to highlight the important words of a sentence. It can be confusing at times to find out where to place a comma before ‘but’. First, you must know that ‘but is a conjunction used to join two words or sentences. In some exceptional cases, ‘but can be used without a comma in a sentence. Here are some guidelines and examples that can help you to know about the proper usage of commas before ‘but’.

Rules for Using Comma Before But:

Rules for Putting a Comma

Usually, we put a comma before the word ‘but’ when it connects two clauses. Obviously, it has to be two independent clauses, which functions without the phrases. Suppose we take two sentences, such as, ‘I would work on the consignment’ and ‘I love to do my work in private’. Now if we join these two sentences using the conjunction ‘but, then it will be phrased as ‘I would work on the consignment, but I love to do my work in private’. Since both clauses function independently as a sentence, we are using a comma before but. But if I say, ‘I would work on the consignment but it can take a few hours. Here ‘it can take a few hours doesn’t have a verb. It is a dependent clause. So there would be no use of a comma before the word ‘but’ in the sentence.

Best Practices of Using Comma Before But:

Rules for Putting a Comma

It is crucial to check whether a sentence has an independent or dependent clause, especially in the time of writing complex sentences. Always remember that if the sentence consists of independent clauses and could be separated into different sentences, then there is no need for a comma. But if the sentence consists of an independent and dependent clause, then you need to put a comma before the dependent clause of the sentence.  Many people who face difficulty with their grammar skills while typing official documents may use Grammarly or similar applications to know the correct usage of words. These kinds of apps will provide you with the correct use of commas in a sentence. 

Examples of Comma Before But:

  • It was a sunny day, but the wind was chilly.  

[In this sentence, the second clause is independent and totally in contrast to the first independent clause.]

  • I want to attend the party, but I am so tired.

[In this sentence, both the clauses are independent and can be separated to form individual sentences.]

Examples of But Without Comma:

  • There was no one at the library but for me.

[In this sentence, the second clause has no verb and it is dependent on the first independent clause.]

  • He is young but hard-working.

[In this sentence, the second clause is dependent and cannot be separated to form an individual sentence.] 

Ending Note:

From the comprehensive guide, be sure to know the rules and have the best practice of using a comma before ‘but’.

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Divya Gandotra

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I like to observe things closely, and my writing comes from the aspects hidden in daily lives.
I am passionate for writing and love to elevate every brand's value with my skills. Now, it's been 5 years that I am managing a content development agency of my own, mastering the best of both Worlds.