Is “As a member of a rescue team” a dependent clause and does it therefore warrant a comma after it?

I want to know whether the sentence

As a member of the rescue team, I had a terrifying experience.

is correct with the comma after the “as”-clause.

From my understanding it boils down to the question whether the phrase “As a member of the rescue team” is a dependent clause. Other questions tackle other clauses (like “in”- or “for”-phrases), but I want to know whether “as”-clauses are dependent

If so, rule 2 from COMMA SUTRA: 13 rules for using commas applies and the comma is correct.


Yes, it’s a dependent clause—and, because it’s going first, there should be a comma after it.

From "Commas with Subordinate Clauses—A Reader’s Question" at The Editor’s Blog, Beth Hill says the following:

An adverbial clause often starts with a subordinating conjunction. A short list of subordinating conjunctions:


A subordinate clause that stands alone is a sentence fragment . . . While we can use dependent clauses as sentence fragments, most of the time we don’t. We usually pair them with at least one independent clause and create sentences . . . Independent clauses often come first in our text, but putting dependent clauses first gives us variety in sentence construction . . .

When an adverbial dependent clause comes before the independent clause, we put a comma after the dependent clause (between the clauses). We don’t have to give any consideration to the topic of essential or nonessential—when the dependent clause comes before the independent, use a comma to separate them.

Note that it’s a dependent clause because it wouldn’t make sense on its own unless it were in response to what somebody else said:

"As a member of the rescue team."
"Sorry, what?"


"In what capacity did have a terrifying experience?"
"As a member of the rescue team."

In short, in order for it to be meaningful in any way, it has to have context—either within a dialogue or linked to an independent clause in the same sentence.

In order to address some comments, I interpret as in this sentence in the same sense as because or since.

From Merriam-Webster’s seventh sense of the conjunction:

7 : for the reason that : BECAUSE, SINCE
// stayed home as she had no car

I also take there to be an elided (but implied) verb.

Therefore, the sentence could be rephrased like this:

(Because / Since) [I was] a member of the rescue team, I had a terrifying experience.

It’s also possible to interpret as in Merriam-Webster’s fifth sense:

// spilled the milk as she got up


(While / When) [I was] a member of the rescue team, I had a terrifying experience.

In either of these interpretations, as functions as part of a subordinate clause in a synonymous sense with one of the other words.

Source : Link , Question Author : halloleo , Answer Author : Jason Bassford

Leave a Comment