When to Add a Comma Before or After 'Apparently' or 'Presumably'

When reflecting the speaker's judgement or opinion, the sentence adverbs "apparently" and "presumably" should be followed by a comma at the beginning of a sentence.

When reflecting the speaker's judgement or opinion, the sentence adverbs "apparently" and "presumably" should be followed by a comma at the beginning of a sentence.

Apparently, she is insensitive and indifferent.

When we use "apparently" or "presumably" to modify a single word (verb, adjective, or adverb), commas are often unnecessary.

This tool is apparently useless and dangerous.

The process was presumably accelerated by recent events.

1. 'Apparently' and 'Presumably' at the Start of a Sentence

1.1 Required Comma

We can use "apparently" or "presumably" at the start of a sentence to reflect the opinion, attitude, or judgement of the speaker. In such a situation, these adverbs function as sentence adverbs and should be followed by a comma.

Presumably, he is altruistic and puts others first.

The comma is a signal that the adverb modifies the complete sentence that follows while reflecting the viewpoint of the speaker.

Apparently, his argument is not convincing.

A comma may suggest that the writer has doubts about what follows.

Presumably, he is lying.

1.2 Optional Comma

When using these words as regular adverbs, to modify a single word, the comma is often optional at the beginning of a sentence.

Apparently there was no evidence of a struggle at the club.

But adding a comma after an introductory word, such as "presumably" or "apparently", is generally helpful for readers.

Presumably, her lover is not married.

Apparently, Michelle doesn't like playing with her brother.

1.3 When to Avoid Commas

We do not typically use a comma to separate regular adverbs from the word they modify.

Presumably meant to show an improvement, these figures show that alcohol consumption among young people remains a worrying problem.

2. 'Apparently' and 'Presumably' in the Middle or at the End of a Sentence

As mentioned in the previous section, "apparently" and "presumably" can serve:

  • as a regular adverb (to modify a single word), or
  • as a sentence adverb (to describe the attitude, opinion, or judgement of the speaker).

When we use these words as regular adverbs, we do not generally place a comma between the adverb and the word it describes.

A hearing was apparently scheduled for late November 2021.

The gun is presumably the murder weapon.

When using them as sentence adverbs, however, these words should be surrounded by commas.

The customer, apparently, is friendly and honest.

By using commas in the sentence above, the writer conveys that the customer seems friendly and honest according to the writer's judgement.

In the end position, sentence adverbs should be preceded by a comma and followed by a period.

Inflation is going to increase next month, presumably.

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