As a tutor running the weekly physics help room I help students taking their first steps in understanding new and difficult concepts, be that torque for the non-major introductory course or Lorentz contractions for the physics-major introductory course.

or

As a tutor running the weekly physics help room, I help students taking their first steps in understanding new and difficult concepts, be that torque for the non-major introductory course or Lorentz contractions for the physics-major introductory course.

up vote 2 down vote accepted

For introductory phrases it never hurts to supply a comma. That said, it's only expected if the comma helps avoid confusion in reading. Here, I don't foresee any misreading from omitting the comma, so the comma is optional.

An example of when a comma might be necessary, inspired by Daily Writing Tips:

(Confusing) Before eating the bird should not be disturbed. ("Before eating the bird ..." is a potential misreading.)

(Correct) Before eating, the bird should not be disturbed.

  • Brilliant! Thank you! – Lopey Tall Dec 6 at 23:21

The sentence begins with a coordinating conjunction (As) and this causes the problem with punctuation that is called a run-on sentence since. The second sentence attempts to fix the solution with a comma but only creates a comma splice in the sentence. You can fix the run-on sentence by placing your main clause first (the main thing you want to say) and follow it with a conjunction (as) to connect with your subordinate clause/dependent clause.

The grammar solution may look something like this:

"I help students taking their first steps in understanding new and difficult concepts such as torque for the non-major introductory course or Lorentz contractions for the physics-major introductory course as a tutor running the weekly physics help room."

Keep in mind that this solution alters the order of the sentence (i.e. detailing your job and then saying you are a physics tutor) but avoids comma splicing and creating a run-on sentence. The solution is just one of many and tries to stay grammatically correct.

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