Here, Cambridge doesn't use a comma. I am confused. Example in Cambridge Dictionary: Unfortunately we can't come this evening after all.


On different pages i found some rules telling there needs to be a comma. Examples follow:

We do usually put a comma after adverbs like 'unfortunately'. They are called 'sentence adverbs' because they modify the whole sentence and often give the opinion of the speaker/writer.

A parenthetical phrase adding detail to the main clause. Initially placed parentheticals are normally set off by a comma.

Cause I'm studying for my Level 2 graduation, i want going crazy reading here and there comma rules followed by looking in the Cambridge Dictionary without finding them there.

HELP me out please !

  • How does "unfortunately", in such a case, differ from "however"?
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Nov 15, 2017 at 12:59
  • Studying Business English, unfortunately is more polite or formal. Prevered to be used in a letter of apologize. For example: Unfortunately, the ordered goods are out of stock.
    – FrankMK
    Commented Nov 16, 2017 at 10:16
  • Can you accept answer if handles the question? See: english.stackexchange.com/help/someone-answers
    – ib11
    Commented Feb 1, 2018 at 18:40
  • Possible duplicate of Comma after introductory phrases Commented May 1, 2018 at 16:24

1 Answer 1


The Oxford Manual of Style has this to say about sentence adverbs:

Adverbs and adverbial phrases that comment on the whole sentence, such as therefore, perhaps, of course, are often enclosed in commas, but this is not a fixed rule. Sense may be altered by the comma's placement or presence. Consider the following:

  • We'll go to Cornwall, perhaps in the spring. (perhaps then)
  • We'll go to Cornwall perhaps, in the Spring. (perhaps elsewhere)
  • Again she refused to speak. (once more)
  • Again, she refused to speak. (in addition)
  • The ship's captain ordered a change, of course. (indeed?)

In your particular example, the use of a comma would appear to be optional (and therefore a matter of style), since it doesn't alter the meaning.

  • Unfortunately we can't come this evening after all.
  • Unfortunately, we can't come this evening after all.

These both seem to mean the same thing, with a slight change of emphasis.

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