Does a comma go before “since”?

If since is being used as a preposition, then it doesn’t need a comma:

  • You haven’t been here since lunch.
  • She’s long since forgotten his name.

There are times that since is used as a subordinating conjunction to replace the word “because.” If since is at the beginning of a dependent clause following the main clause, then it should not be preceded by a comma:

  • She sold fewer shoes since she was always late to work.

However, if the independent clause right before since has a negative verb, then you need to use a comma:

  • I couldn’t go to the event, since I was sick.

Since is a unique word with several uses. It can even be used as more than one part of speech. It is important to realize that there are different rules about how to use since depending on the sentence structure you’re using.

When talking about time, since is used as a preposition or adverb. In this case, since means from one specific point in time up until the present. Another way to say this is “before the present time.” Sometimes since is used to mean “ago.” Another meaning for since is “any time after a particular time in the past.” You do not use a comma when since is used in one of these ways.

For example:

  • I’ve been a lot sadder ever since I moved to the country.
  • The project has been long since disbanded.
  • We dated each other many years ago, and she has since become sad and bitter.

Another way that since is used is as a subordinating conjunction. It connects clauses to talk about changes from a particular time. Since does not need a comma when it is used in this context.

Since can also be used as a subordinating conjunction to mean “because.” The comma rule gets more challenging here. A comma is only used before since if the preceding clause is negated by the new clause. So, if the preceding clause has a negative verb, then use a comma.

Here are some examples for when since doesn’t need a comma:

  • She went to the mall since she wanted new clothes.
  • He wants a new cat since his other cat is lonely.

Here are some examples for when since does need a comma:

  • We didn’t get new furniture, since rent was due the next day.
  • I did not go to the party, since my ex was going to be there.

Related: Commas with “And”

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