The use of punctuation in the English language is very important. When used improperly, punctuation can change the entire context of a sentence, presenting a completely different message. So it’s important to know whether or not a comma is needed before saying “along with.”
In this post, we’ll be discussing exactly that.
Comma Before “Along With”?
You must use a comma before “along with” if the information presented afterward is not critical to the meaning of the sentence. If the information presented after “along with” is required for the sentence to make sense, don’t include a comma. If the information is parenthetical, a comma is used.
Maybe you don’t know what “parenthetical” means. Parenthetical information is “supplementary.” While this info adds something to a sentence, it’s not required for it to make sense. For example:
- I believe that Claire, along with everyone else for that matter, should watch this movie.
If you were to cut out everything between the two commas, you would get:
- I believe that Claire should watch this movie.
As you can see, this sentence still makes sense. The information provided after “along with” is parenthetical, unnecessary for the sentence to be logical. This information after the first comma is a relative clause, secondary to “Claire should watch this movie” but not crucial to the sentence structure.
This is true if “along with” is at the beginning of a sentence, or if “along with” is at the end of a sentence (just not as the first or last words, since you can’t start a sentence with a comma and you can’t end a sentence with “along with.”)
This also means that the opposite is true. If the information provided by “along with” is mandatory for the sentence to make sense, it is part of the main clause, not a relative clause. Thus, no comma is needed before “along with.” For example:
- I can’t go along with your plan.
The information after “along with” is mandatory for the sentence to make sense. Therefore, no comma is needed before “along with.”
When to Use a Comma Before “Along With”
You should use a comma before “along with” when a relative clause is included in the sentence.
The main message of a sentence is the primary clause. Without this clause, the sentence doesn’t make any sense. However, you can include supplementary information in a sentence that is not mandatory for one to understand the sentence. This is called a relative clause.
Considering the following sentences:
- George, along with Sarah, is going to the theater.
- Our nation, along with support from our comrades, is going to war.
- Hubert, along with his friends, intends to commit a crime.
In all of these sentences, the information contained within the commas is not necessary for the sentences to make sense. You could remove the information entirely and still have a complete sentence. In these relative clauses, “along with” should have a comma before it.
The comma separates the relative clause from the main clause, letting a reader know which information is the main info and which is supplementary. But there is one situation in which you don’t put a comma before “along with” even when a relative clause is involved. Consider the following:
- Along with Martha and Jan, Zoe voted for pizza tonight.
In this sentence, the main clause is “Zoe voted for pizza tonight.” The relative clause is “along with Martha and Jan.” But the relative clause came first in the sentence, making “along” the first word. Because you can’t start a sentence with a comma, “along with” is not preceded by a comma here.
When to Not Use a Comma Before “Along With”
“Along with” is often used to introduce additional information to a sentence. In those cases, you put a comma before it to separate the supplementary information from the main information. But what if “along with” is being used as part of the main clause? In that case, a comma is not needed before it.
Consider the following examples:
- I won’t go along with this.
- Our vessel is drifting along with the current.
- We are moving along with gusto and purpose.
In all of these sentences, there is no additional information, only a main clause. Removing “along with” would detract from the main clause, and these sentences would no longer make any sense. When “along with” is part of a main clause like this, you do not put a comma before it.
This is true regardless of any particular style guide. AP, Chicago, whatever you prefer, a comma is used before “along with” when it introduces a relative clause, but not when “along with” is part of a sentence’s main clause.
Is It Ever Correct to Use a Comma After “Along With”?
You would not use a comma after “along with” in most cases. That’s because a comma is used to separate clauses in a sentence, and “along with” is usually introducing a new clause, not existing at the end of one. Consider the following example:
- Incorrect: Horus, along with, James and Tate, is going to the store.
By separating “along with” via a comma after it, you are saying that “along with” is its own clause. But that is clearly wrong. “Along with” is part of the entire relative clause “along with James and Tate.” Therefore, no comma should separate any part of that clause. Here are some other incorrect examples:
- Incorrect: Along with, Marcus, Delilah is riding the bus to school.
- Incorrect: He, along with, his friends, is a member of the chess club.
- Incorrect: A good diet, along with, plentiful exercise, makes for a healthy body.
All of these sentences would become correct if only the comma after “along with” was removed.
A comma must be used before “along with” if it is introducing a relative clause that contains supplementary information that is not strictly required for a sentence to make sense. A comma is not used if “along with” is part of a main clause. A comma is never used after “along with.”
Martin holds a Master’s degree in Finance and International Business. He has six years of experience in professional communication with clients, executives, and colleagues. Furthermore, he has teaching experience from Aarhus University. Martin has been featured as an expert in communication and teaching on Forbes and Shopify. Read more about Martin here.