Tuesday Afternoon Punctuation: Commas, Part XVI—As Well, Too

Reader Teresa Frohock recently raised a comma-related question that I haven’t run across in my research on the prolific punctuation mark but have often wondered about in my day-to-day writing:

This seems like a silly question, but I’ve had people remove the comma when I’ve written a sentence like this:

I went to the store, too.

Is it incorrect to insert a comma before the word “too” or the phrase “as well”? Also, if the word “too” is inserted mid-sentence, would the comma come before and after?

For example: He went, too, but there was no reason for him to go.

Help!

Thanks for writing in, Teresa. This is a topic I’ve struggled with too (and may have just answered for you!).

According to the Q&A section of The Chicago Manual of Style’s online edition, when you’re using too to mean “also,” you don’t usually need to use commas. So Teresa’s sample sentence should read

I went to the store too.

Because as well is used similarly to mean “also,” you wouldn’t need to use commas with it, either:

I went to the store as well.

You would use a comma after too when it starts a sentence, but this isn’t a sentence structure used by too many writers (other than Sarah Palin).

If, however, you’re using too to indicate a change of thought, then do use commas:

When Jeff’s stepbrother got married, the couple requested that donations be given in their names in lieu of gifts, but then, too, they’re consolidating two homes and don’t need the household items that most newlyweds do.

Do you have a question about the comma? Let me know, and I’ll include it in a future installment of Mots Justes’ ongoing series.

The Mots Justes Series on Commas

Part I—To Serialize or Not to Serialize

Part II—Independent Thinking

Part III—Co-dependents

Part IV—Making Introductions

Part V—Interjections

Part VI—Parentheticals

Part VII—It’s All Relative

Part VIII—Adjectives

Part IX—Contrast

Part X—Adjectival Phrases and Appositives

Part XI—In Other Words

Part XII—Making the Transition

Part XIII—Confusion Busting

Part XIV—On One Condition

Part XV—Absolutely

Resources

“Commas.” Chicago Style Q&A. Chicago Manual of Style Online, The. 29 September 2009 <http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/CMS_FAQ/Commas/Commas27.html>

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2 Comments

Filed under punctuation

2 responses to “Tuesday Afternoon Punctuation: Commas, Part XVI—As Well, Too

  1. Thank you for clarifying that issue for me!

    Since I have no intention of writing or speaking like Sarah Palin, I’m not going to worry about starting a sentence with Too, but I’m glad you included it in the list. l0l

    Thanks again!
    Teresa

  2. Lynn Gledhill

    Thanks for the explanation.

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