7

I just can't figure it out; some writers use it others don't.

For instance,in this para from an article:

"On a domestic scale, people whispered about their neighbours, families split along north-south divides; standing back Britain felt embarrassed and isolated and scared of everything. Also it was the worst year for butterflies since records began."

There is no comma after "also" even though the clause following it can stand on its own.

  • 2
    You're right -- some writers put a comma there, others don't. – Hot Licks Jul 24 '16 at 12:09
  • 1
    In experience of several decades as a reader there is no hard and fast rule for the use of a comma after introductory phrases. As you know(,) I could have put a comma after reader in the previous sentence but I didn't. Also(,) this applies to introductory words. – Alan Carmack Jul 24 '16 at 16:22
10

"Also" followed by a comma, indicating an intonation break, tends to be interpreted performatively, but without a comma is interpreted declaratively. A performative concerns the saying of something, while a declarative concerns what is said.

"Also," at the beginning means, roughly, "in addition to what I have just told you, I am telling you what follows after the comma." But "also" not followed by a comma means that what follows is a factor in addition to those previously mentioned.

Other adverbs in initial position have potentially both declarative and performative senses which can be disambiguated by making an intonation break after an adverb intended performatively. For instance, compare

"Frankly I spoke with her."  
"Frankly, I spoke with her."  

The first means I was being frank with her. The second, the performative, means that in saying that I spoke with her, I am being frank with you, the person I am now speaking to.

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