Commas With 'Occasionally' and 'Sporadically'

In the middle or at the end of a sentence, we do not typically use a comma before or after “occasionally” or “sporadically”. However, there are particular sentence constructions where commas may be used.

In the middle or at the end of a sentence, we do not typically use a comma before or after “occasionally” or “sporadically”. However, there are particular sentence constructions where commas may be used.

Robert glanced at her occasionally with a slight smile.

If the sentence is clear, the comma at the beginning of a clause is often optional.

Occasionally the dog would stand and bark.

But there is a range of situations where you may need a comma in the front position.

Sporadically, however, I enjoy having a friendly conversation with my former boyfriend.

1. ‘Occasionally’ and ‘Sporadically’ in Mid-sentence

Adverbs of frequency, such as “occasionally” and “sporadically”, are frequently placed before the main verb (or between the auxiliary and the verb). In this position commas are generally unnecessary.

I occasionally play volleyball with my friends.

Tigers have occasionally attacked humans.

If the main verb is “to be”, these adverbs regularly follow the verb—with no comma.

I am sporadically receiving spam emails from finance sites.

However, the words “occasionally” and “sporadically” are highly mobile within a clause, so they can be used in different positions (typically without commas).

Peter goes to the gym sporadically.

Olivia enjoys eating Chinese food occasionally.

But you may use commas to create a parenthetical feel, show contrast, or avoid confusion.

My wife enjoys a fresh squeezed lemon juice with vodka, occasionally.

John sees Jennifer occasionally, but not as often as he would like.

Use also a comma before a coordinating conjunction (and, or, for, yet, nor, but) introducing an independent clause.

The patient may experience vomiting occasionally, and other complications may also occur sporadically.

Follow the same strategy to decide whether to use commas with "at times".

2. Starting a Sentence With ‘Occasionally’ or ‘Sporadically’

At the beginning of a sentence, the comma after the adverbs “occasionally” or “sporadically” is usually optional.

Occasionally I'll get a new idea that I'll add in.

But use a comma if there is any danger of ambiguity.

Occasionally, I enjoy playing video games with my brother and playing hide-and-seek with my sister.

Use also a comma if “occasionally” or “sporadically” is followed by a strong interrupter, such as “however”.

Occasionally, however, she took part in the conversation.

Similarly, use a comma if the adverb is followed by a dependent clause or question.

Occasionally, when John arrives home early, he prepares chocolate flavored banana ice cream.

When in doubt, use a comma at the start of a sentence.

Sporadically, objects of the Bronze Age and Early Middle Ages have been found in this area.

Follow the same policy when deciding whether to add a comma with "on occasion".

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