Commas After 'Frankly', 'Honestly', 'Truthfully', and 'Admittedly'

When expressing your opinion, attitude, or judgement, use commas to set off the words "frankly", "honestly", "truthfully", or "admittedly".

When expressing your opinion, attitude, or judgement, use commas to set off the words "frankly", "honestly", "truthfully", or "admittedly".

Frankly, you look terrible. You should get some sleep.

Frankly you look terrible. You should get some sleep.

When modifying a single word (adjective, verb, or adverb), we do not normally use a comma to separate these adverbs from the word they describe.

Please answer the questions truthfully.

Please answer the questions, truthfully.

1. Differences Between Sentence Adverbs and Regular Adverbs

The words "frankly", "honestly", "truthfully", and "admittedly" may serve as a:

  • Sentence adverb to modify (describe) a complete sentence while reflecting the speaker's attitude (e.g., "Honestly, I haven't read a book since school.")
  • Regular adverb to modify a single word (e.g. "He honestly described the situation of the company.")

2. Punctuation of Sentence Adverbs

As sentence adverbs, we often use the words "frankly", "honestly", "truthfully", or "admittedly" at the beginning of a sentence to express the opinion, attitude, or view of the speaker.

Honestly, you should be more flexible and provide a better service to your customers.

In front position, they should be followed by a comma.

Admittedly, every failure is a step to success.

The comma after the adverb indicates that it does not describe the word that follows but the whole clause or sentence that follows.

Frankly, I don't have much confidence in them.

Frankly I don't have much confidence in them.

Surrounded by commas, sentence adverbs can go midsentence or midclause.

The facility is small, but, frankly, it is superb.

At the end of a sentence, they should be preceded by a comma and followed by a period.

The situation took us by surprise, honestly.

The sentence adverb "frankly" is sometimes followed by the word "speaking". Use commas to set off the whole phrase ("frankly speaking") in this case.

Frankly speaking, you should make a commitment to get your finances in order.

3. Punctuation of 'Frankly', 'Honestly', etc. as Regular Adverbs

Regular adverbs are different from sentence adverbs. A regular adverb modifies a single word (verb, adjective, or adverb) and not a sentence.

That admittedly beautiful car is not mine.

We typically do not use commas to separate single-word adverbs from the word they modify.

The question was honestly answered by James.

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