I am not sure about the use of a comma following the identification of a single year at the beginning of a sentence. I have seen a comma both used and not used.


In 1952 the explorer landed on the island and claimed it for Spain.

Should there be a comma following 1952?

  • Has nothing to do with it being a date.
    – Hot Licks
    Mar 11, 2018 at 14:57

1 Answer 1


The general rule is that if a prepositional phrase is really short (3-4 words or less), you don't need the comma. If it's longer, or at all confusing, you add the comma.

So, 'In 1952 the explorer landed on the island and claimed it for Spain.' is fine because the prepositional phrase is only 2 words.

But, 'On the morning before our wedding anniversary, my husband surprised me with a trip to Las Vegas.' would need the comma because it's so long.

And, 'After sweeping up my sister washed the floors.' definitely needs a comma after up, because it's confusing. It sounds like you're sweeping up your sister.

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