Should a Comma Go Before Though?
  • 4-minute read
  • 11th June 2023

Should a Comma Go Before Though?

Does a comma go before though? The answer is… sometimes. Hey, if the matter were straightforward, we wouldn’t have written a whole blog post on it.

The issue is that though is a versatile word that can serve as multiple parts of speech. Following are the ways we use though and the comma rules for each use.

When Used as a Subordinating Conjunction: No Comma

Conjunctions join phrases and clauses. Think of them as links between related thoughts. The two types of conjunctions are coordinating and subordinating.

The seven coordinating conjunctions link independent thoughts. They are for, and, nor, but, or, yet, and so (we also refer to them as the FANBOYS conjunctions because their first letters form this acronym).

In contrast, subordinating conjunctions link clauses when one clause is dependent on the other for meaning. The list of subordinating conjunctions is quite long, and though is on that list. Consider these two examples:

I like Star Wars [independent clause], but my husband prefers Star Trek [independent clause].

I like Star Wars [independent clause] though some might consider it more fantasy than science fiction [subordinate clause].

The second example discusses genre in light of the writer’s fandom preference. In other words, to fully understand the subordinate clause, the reader needs the context the independent clause provides.

We do not use a comma before a subordinating conjunction when the dependent clause comes after the independent clause. So when though functions as a subordinating conjunction, we don’t use a comma before it:

Han Solo is quite charming though he is a rogue.

However, when the dependent clause is the first clause in the sentence, the entire clause is followed by a comma:

Though he is a rogue, Han Solo is quite charming.

Quick Tip

As a conjunction, though is often combined with other words. Even though, as though, and although are all subordinating conjunctions and follow the same rules as though.

When Used to Start a Parenthetical Phrase: Add a Comma

A parenthetical phrase is a group of words added to a sentence. It doesn’t change the meaning or the grammar of the original sentence. In other words, a parenthetical phrase is information that’s nice to know but not essential. Parenthetical phrases are always surrounded by commas. For example:

That spaceship, though old, is still the fastest ship in the galaxy.

Parenthetical phrases can be full clauses, but they would still follow the same rule:

Luke Skywalker, though he’s the son of a notorious villain, grew up to be a galactic hero.


Be Careful!

Parenthetical phrases often split the subject and the verb in the sentence. In our above example, Luke Skywalker is the subject, and grew is the verb. If you rearrange the sentence to put the subject next to the verb, you end up with an independent clause at the beginning of the sentence and a dependent clause at the end. If this happens, we get rid of the comma (as per our first rule).

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Luke Skywalker grew up to be a galactic hero though he’s the son of a notorious villain.

This can get a little tricky, especially if you’re revising your sentence for clarity or word flow. In complex sentences, always take the time to break your sentence down and identify the main subject and verb. Doing this will help you decide whether a clause is parenthetical (and should have commas around it) or subordinate.

When Used as an Adverb: Add a Comma

When we use though as an adverb, it usually comes at the end of the sentence and means “however” or “nevertheless.” In these cases, you should use a comma before it.

That movie was almost three hours long. I was engrossed the entire time, though.

We can use though as an adverb in the middle of a sentence, in which case it should have a comma before and after it.

Rebels destroyed the first Death Star. The Galactic Empire, though, had plans to build a second one.


What parts of speech can though be?

We can use though as either a subordinating conjunction or an adverb. Comma rules with this word vary depending on how we’re using it.

What are the three quick rules?

●  If you’re using though as a subordinating conjunction, don’t use a comma before it. (Do use a comma after an entire dependent clause that begins a sentence and starts with though, however.)

●  If though introduces a parenthetical phrase, use a comma before it (and after the entire parenthetical phrase).

●  If you’re using though as an adverb to mean however or nevertheless, use a comma before it.

In Conclusion

Misplaced commas are a common writing error. Because commas are situational for certain words, such as though, matters can become complex. Comma rules may seem to be from a galaxy far, far away, but it helps to break the sentence down into its components. Once you know exactly what you’re dealing with, the rules become clearer.

Still not quite sure you’ve corrected your commas? A proofreading service such as Proofed can help you polish your paper. Give us a try for free.

Want more writing tips? Check out our Writing Tips and Academic Writing Tips blogs.

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