Ah, commas; it seems that people either use them far too often or not nearly often enough. That’s probably because a lot of people end up getting confused as to when they are supposed to be used. Should a comma be placed before “even though?”
In this post, we’ll be discussing this topic in great detail.
Comma Before “Even Though”?
“Even though” should have a comma before it if the subordinate clause it introduces comes before the independent clause in a sentence. But if the independent clause comes first, there’s no need for a comma to separate the subordinate clause from it, and “even though” won’t need a comma.
This concept can be confusing. What’s important is understanding that commas are about constructing a sentence. It’s not about pauses in sentences. There are concrete rules about comma placement that can’t be overridden by what a person “feels” is correct.
An independent clause is the main part of a complete sentence. Sometimes, a sentence will also have a subordinate clause, which is related to the independent clause. A comma should never be used to separate these, except when the subordinate clause comes first.
“Even though” is often used as the start of a subordinate clause, which is why there is confusion as to whether a comma should be used. But whether it’s “even though” at the start of a sentence or “even though” at the end of a sentence, the rules are the same. Let’s look at an example:
- I failed even though I tried my best.
“I failed” is the independent clause. “Even though I tried my best” is the subordinate clause. A comma should not be used to separate them because the independent clause came first. But if you flip things around:
- Even though I tried my best, I failed.
You should include a comma after the subordinate clause. This is the only time when you would separate the two clauses with a comma. The comma does not go before or after “even though.”
When to Use a Comma Before “Even Though”
“Even though” is a subordinating conjunction. Simply put, that means it is a literary device used to introduce a subordinate clause. The rule in English is that you should never put a comma before a subordinating conjunction, period.
You will often see commas before “even though,” but this is likely due to the poor general understanding of proper comma usage, not because it’s correct. As far as technical English goes, you never put a comma before “even though.”
This is true regardless of any particular style, such as AP or Chicago Style. However, it’s worth noting that commas are used so profusely in writing (albeit incorrectly) that you will rarely be penalized for using a comma to separate the independent and subordinate clauses even if you aren’t supposed to.
The following examples all look correct to most people, but they are all incorrect according to English grammar rules:
- Incorrect: Jake is a nice guy, even though he looks like a mean person.
- Incorrect: We are going to Disneyworld, even though I wanted to go to Six Flags.
- Incorrect: I have no time to help, even though I am not working today.
- Incorrect: Mariah is going to do it, even though I told her not to.
- Incorrect: The two of them are going out, even though they don’t have good chemistry.
While all the above sentences look and feel correct, they are technically wrong. There should be no comma before “even though” in any of them.
When to Not Use a Comma Before “Even Though”
A concrete rule of English grammar is that you aren’t supposed to put a comma before a subordinating conjunction, which is exactly what “even though” is. So, when should you not use a comma before “even though?” Always. You should never put a comma before “even though.”
This is true even if you feel that there should be a pause in a sentence. Commas do not indicate pauses: they follow exact rules of sentence construction and are only correctly used when following those rules. The rules say to not put a comma before a subordinating conjunction, ever. That’s how it is.
That means all the following examples are correct, even if you feel that a comma could be used:
- I will be going to the store even though I don’t want to right now.
- I am tired even though I slept for eight hours last night.
- Wallace forgave me even though I didn’t deserve it.
- The team still lost even though they tried their hardest.
- Simon was unable to finish his work even though he started early.
Is It Ever Correct to Use a Comma After “Even Though”?
A comma should never come directly after “even though” because a subordinate conjunction can’t form an entire clause by itself, and commas are only used to separate clauses. “Even though” can also not be the end of a clause, because its entire purpose is to connect one clause to another.
This means there is no situation where you would put a comma after “even though.” However, you should put a comma at the end of the subordinate clause that “even though” introduces, if that subordinate clause comes before the independent clause. Here is an example:
- I lost even though I fought.
“I lost,” the independent clause, comes first in this sentence, so no comma is needed. But with-
- Even though I fought, I lost.
“Even though I fought,” the subordinate clause, comes first. This is when you should put a comma after the subordinate clause.
You never put a comma before even though, because you are not supposed to put commas before subordinate conjunctions such as “even though.” You also do not put a comma after “even though,” though you should put a comma after a subordinate clause if it comes before the independent clause.
Take a look at our other article if you want to learn more about commas with the word “even”: Comma Before “Even” – Explained For Beginners (Helpful Examples)
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.