Do You Put A Comma Before Since?

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Danielle McLeod

Danielle McLeod is a highly qualified secondary English Language Arts Instructor who brings a diverse educational background to her classroom. With degrees in science, English, and literacy, she has worked to create cross-curricular materials to bridge learning gaps and help students focus on effective writing and speech techniques. Currently working as a dual credit technical writing instructor at a Career and Technical Education Center, her curriculum development surrounds student focus on effective communication for future career choices.

The English language contains many words used as more than one part of speech. This makes them versatile but also confusing for anyone still learning the language.

Since is one of these words and can be used in multiple ways to talk about the passage of time or replace the word “because” in a sentence. It is also often misused and misspelled by language learners, even though it is an easy word to incorporate into your writing and speech.

To help you better understand how to use the word “since” with proper punctuation, take a look at our simple guide below.

What Does the Word Since Mean?

Since has more than one use and is used as more than one part of speech. Therefore, it is punctuated differently depending on its use.

When used as an adverb or preposition, it is used to discuss time. As a subordinating conjunction, it is used to connect clauses to talk about changes from a particular time or to replace the word “because.”

How is Since Used in a Sentence?

Despite having more than one part of speech associated with it, “since” is always used in relation to time. You will almost never use a comma with the word since. There is one exception to this explained below. 

As a Preposition or Adverb

When since is used as a preposition or adverb, DO NOT use a comma.

Use since to describe a change from a specific time to the present.

For example

  • I have been less stressed since I transferred jobs to the new building.

Use since to replace the word “ago” and to mean before the present time.

For example

  • Your decision to avoid the report has long since been proven to be the wrong decision.

Use since to mean any time after a time in the past.

For example

  • Failing that course ended up being a good thing; she has since become more organized and asks for help when she needs it.

As a Subordinating Conjunction

Subordinating conjunctions link a dependent clause to an independent clause to describe changes from a specific time period. When since is used in this manner, DO NOT use a comma.

For example

  • Nancy works really hard for her grades since she needs the scholarship to attend Baylor.

When Do You Put a Comma Before Since?

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When since is used to replace the subordinating conjunction because, you MIGHT want to consider comma use.

Place a comma before since ONLY if the preceding clause is negated by the subordinate clause. To help you remember this rule, check to see if the preceding clause contains a negative verb. If it does, use a comma.

For example

  • She did not apply to her top university pick, since the tuition was way out of her price range.
  • He was not able to watch his television show, since he lied to his mom about chores.

If the preceding clause does not negate the new clause, DO NOT add a comma.

For example

  • I stopped to pick up coffee since I ran out of fresh beans at home.
  • I was late to work since there was a huge line.

Let’s Review

Since is rarely used with a comma despite being used as more than one part of speech. Its use is always related to time, and it can work as a preposition or adverb, as well as a subordinating conjunction.

Never use a comma when it is being used as a preposition or adverb. And, never use a comma with any other subordinating conjunction other than because.

When since is being used to replace the word because, only place a comma before it if the preceding clause is negated by the new clause.