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I would like to know if you can use "that" with a comma after it. For example:

Findings show that, during the initial stages of love, there is increased blood flow to the brain.

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    It's not a comma after that, it's a parenthetical comma that sets off a parenthetical. Parentheticals are set off wherever they appear — before that, after that, in the middle of that, instead of that.
    – RegDwigнt
    Sep 6 '13 at 8:50
  • why don't you answer it as an Answer. you are correct so why comment! Sep 6 '13 at 9:01
  • @TaniaSmith he'd have to leave his puns out of his answer lest it confuse the OP, which is just no fun at all.
    – TsSkTo
    Sep 6 '13 at 9:07
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    The simple answer is yes. Sep 6 '13 at 9:08
  • Also, you might consider asking this type of basic question on our sister site English Language Learners.
    – TrevorD
    Sep 6 '13 at 11:23
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Here's an example of a sentence that contains a parenthetical phrase (one that is not essential to the framing sentence): "Skye's sentence, which has no parenthetical phrase, needs no commas." Remove it, and the essential meaning of the sentence is preserved: "Skye's sentence needs no commas."

If you remove "during the initial stages of love" from Skye's sentence, you remove the condition essential to the findings, which leaves you with this meaningless statement: "Findings show that there is increased blood flow to the brain." So "during the initial stages of love" is not a parenthetical phrase.

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You use paired commas to set off a parenthetical.

Findings show that there is increased blood flow to the brain.

If you want to insert "during the initial stages of love" as a parenthetical, you set it off with commas, hence:

Findings show that, during the initial stages of love, there is increased blood flow to the brain.

This has nothing to do with the fact that the parenthetical happens to be preceded by the word "that". For example:

Findings show, during the initial stages of love, there is increased blood flow to the brain.

Findings show, during the initial stages of love, that there is increased blood flow to the brain.

Notice the commas are still there, still setting off the parenthetical. These are a bit awkward, but still perfectly legal grammatically.

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  • Is "Findings show that during the initial stages of love, there is increased blood flow to the brain." grammatically correct? I have a coauthor on a paper who always suggests that I remove the first comma in similar sentences in his revisions...
    – nukeguy
    Jun 6 '17 at 18:54
  • @nukeguy Whether or not it is gramatically correct, it is extremely awkward and unpleasant. Try reading it with no pause between "that" and "during" but a pause between "love" and "there". It just sounds awful. Jun 6 '17 at 23:59
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I think the problem here is that "that" introduces a clause that is, in turn, introduced by a phrase. If it were an independent clause, one would separate any phrase before the clause proper with a comma. Thus: During the initial stages of love, there is increased blood flow to the brain. Now we are creating a noun clause by placing "that" in front of it. Does one then separate the whole phrase with commas, or just place one after "love"? Or does the rule of comma before a main clause not apply because it is now a dependent clause? I would argue for a comma after "that".

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