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When an adverb is the last word in a sentence, is it preferable to insert a comma before that word or to leave it as is (with no comma)?

For example:

How many employees, roughly? or How many employees roughly?

How long was the driveway, approximately? or How long was the driveway approximately?

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  • 2
    The comma helps, really.
    – Lawrence
    Apr 13, 2016 at 4:57
  • Or rearrange the word order: "Roughly how many employees work here?" (It's quite good to have a verb in the sentence as well!). "Approximately how long is the driveway?" Presumably you want to know how long it is now - not how long it was at some unspecified time in the past?
    – TrevorD
    Apr 13, 2016 at 10:46

1 Answer 1

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If the adverb applies to the verb specifically, as in

I loved her passionately

then no comma is required. If the adverb applies to the adjective from which it is separated (in your examples, many and long), a comma would be preferable. Your first example means

How many employees work here, roughly?

and without the comma, the sense is that the employees work in a rough manner.

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  • Thanks, everyone, for helping make it more clear for me! Apr 14, 2016 at 10:35

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