Rule 1: You should always put a comma after “in fact” when it starts a sentence.
- Correct: He wasn’t Spanish. In fact, he was Portuguese.
- Incorrect: He wasn’t Spanish. In fact he was Portuguese.
Rule 2: When “in fact” connects two independent clauses, you should put a semicolon before it and a comma after it.
- Correct: The French speaking assessment was complex; in fact, most of the students failed the speaking section of the test.
- Incorrect: The French speaking assessment was complex, in fact, most of the students failed the speaking section of the test.
Rule 3: When “in fact” appears in the middle of a sentence to interrupt clauses rather than connect them, it is optional to put commas around “in fact.”
- Correct: She was, in fact, inspirational.
- Correct: She was in fact inspirational.
Keep reading to learn more about when you must include a comma after “in fact” and when you can omit it. You can also discover when you should use a comma before “in fact.”
When to Use a Comma After “In Fact”
If you want to know when to use a comma after “in fact,” you should refer to Rule 1 and Rule 2.
Rule 1: Use a comma after “in fact” when it starts the sentence.
When “in fact” starts a sentence, it is an introductory element, and you should always use a comma.
In this role, it functions to show a contrast between the first and second sentences. The meaning is similar to the word “actually.”
- James was not upset as we thought. In fact, he seemed quite happy.
- You will not criticize me when you see the results. In fact, you will be thanking me.
Rule 2: Use a comma after “in fact” when it connects two independent clauses.
In these instances, many people make the mistake of using a comma before and after.
However, you should use a semicolon before “in fact” rather than a comma.
- Many people have recounted the myth; in fact, it is one of the most popular stories.
- Brian said he had extensive work experience; in fact, he was a recent graduate of marketing.
Alternatively, you can break up the sentence into two by replacing the semicolon with a period. In these cases, you should include a comma after “in fact” as Rule 1 states:
- Many people have recounted the myth. In fact, it is one of the most popular stories.
When to Avoid a Comma With” In Fact”
This section highlights when you do not need to use a comma with “in fact.”
Rule 3: It is optional to use a comma after “in fact” when it interrupts a clause rather than starting or finishing it.
In these instances, you can omit the comma if it is modifying a verb, adjective, or adverb.
You can also include the comma if you wish to add a pause and create emphasis.
Not adding the comma results in a softer, somewhat less dramatic-sounding sentence:
- She was not in fact running for the school council like she said she would. (verb)
- His father is in fact a kind and gentle man. (adjective)
- He was in fact here yesterday, not at work. (adverb)
However, by adding the commas, you essentially create more emotion by adding stress and pauses:
- His father is, in fact, a kind and gentle man. (adjective)
When to Use a Comma Before “In Fact”
Do you want to learn when to use a comma before “in fact”? Then read on, as Rules 4 and 5 will explain exactly this.
Rule 4: Use a comma before “in fact” when it starts a non-essential clause in the middle of a sentence.
- She is astute, in fact more so than her siblings, and is destined for great things.
- We met on a Sunday, in fact, it was his birthday, in front of the fountain.
Rule 5: Use a comma when “in fact” appears at the end of a sentence as a disjunct.
In this role, the term “in fact” comes at the end of the sentence and functions in the same way as words like “obviously/basically.”
This implies that you use it to add emphasis or emotion rather than it playing a specific grammatical role.
Therefore, “rather” can be removed from the sentence in the same way a non-essential element can, and thus requires a comma.
- What he did was foolish and unforgivable, in fact.
- We think that the forecast for the following year is promising, in fact.
You should put a comma after “in fact” when it starts a sentence. Also, you must use a semicolon before and a comma after “in fact” when it connects two independent clauses. Alternatively, if “in fact” appears mid-clause and modifies a verb, adjective, or adverb, the comma is optional.