The punctuation of Thus

This is the place to post questions and discussions on usage and style. The members of the Wordwizard Clubhouse will also often be able to help you to formulate that difficult letter.
Post Reply

The punctuation of Thus

Post by PhilHunt » Tue Dec 04, 2012 1:27 pm

I'm having some doubts over how to punctuate 'thus' when used as an adverb.
I am familiar with 'thus' as a Transition marker, similar to 'as a result', punctuating it thus:

'It was a bleak day. Thus, they declined the offer to go boating.'
It was a bleak day; thus, they declined the offer to go boating.'

However, I'm correcting a Strategic Management and Accounting essay and noticed it used thus:
"the company has diversified both its pool of suppliers and its business presence in international markets, thus systematically insulating itself from a certain degree of risk"
To my mind, this is an adverb, not a transition marker, but I'm unsure as to whether the punctuation is correct. Initially the student included a second comma after 'thus': "..international markets, thus, systematically insulating..". This is clearly incorrect. However, is the first comma necessary or not?
I've noticed that business literature favours the comma. Friedrich Nietzsche and the Bible prefer to omit it. On the other hand, if thus were removed, I would be inclined to include a comma before the subordinate adverb clause. Any advice?
ACCESS_POST_ACTIONS
Signature: That which we cannot speak of, must be passed over in silence...or else tweeted.

Re: The punctuation of Thus

Post by Erik_Kowal » Tue Dec 04, 2012 1:50 pm

In your example sentences, 'thus' is the equivalent of 'therefore' and 'thereby' respectively, and can be punctuated similarly.

In your examples,

1) It was a bleak day. Thus, they declined the offer to go boating
2) It was a bleak day; thus, they declined the offer to go boating


1) is incorrectly punctuated, and 2) is correctly but rather stuffily punctuated. I would have preferred:

It was a bleak day, thus they declined the offer to go boating

Better still, I would substitute 'so' for 'thus' here.

The quote from your student's essay (as reproduced above) is punctuated correctly.
ACCESS_POST_ACTIONS

Re: The punctuation of Thus

Post by hsargent » Tue Dec 04, 2012 4:18 pm

I remember in College that every time I tried to use thus as a conjunction I was corrected and thus was the beginning of a new sentence.

I can't tell you the rational but I got enough -5s to be convinced.

We did not have a comma after the Thus.
ACCESS_POST_ACTIONS
Signature: Harry Sargent

Re: The punctuation of Thus

Post by Edwin F Ashworth » Tue Dec 04, 2012 8:06 pm

There is a third possibility with thus, being a pragmatic marker but meaning 'in this way' rather than 'therefore' (notice that 'thereby' can be replaced by 'in this way' whereas the reverse isn't always true):

"We carefully add the concentrated sulphuric acid - thus - and then wait to see if a brown ring develops."

With quicker procedures, two commas might be preferred:

"We quickly throw in the chopped onion, thus, and put the pan back on the cooker."

I'm happy with all the originally posted examples.

http://sana.tkk.fi/awe/cohesion/signpos ... /thus.html
ACCESS_POST_ACTIONS

Re: The punctuation of Thus

Post by Wizard of Oz » Wed Dec 05, 2012 2:47 am

.. PhilH >>

"the company has diversified both its pool of suppliers and its business presence in international markets, thus systematically insulating itself from a certain degree of risk"

.. becomes ..

"the company by diversifying both its pool of suppliers and its business presence in international markets, has systematically insulated itself from a certain degree of risk"

.. thus who needs "thus" ..

WoZ thinking thusly
ACCESS_POST_ACTIONS
Signature: "The question is," said Alice, "whether you can make words mean so many different things."

Re: The punctuation of Thus

Post by PhilHunt » Wed Dec 05, 2012 6:51 pm

Erik_Kowal wrote:In your examples,

1) It was a bleak day. Thus, they declined the offer to go boating
2) It was a bleak day; thus, they declined the offer to go boating


1) is incorrectly punctuated, and 2) is correctly but rather stuffily punctuated. I would have preferred:

It was a bleak day, thus they declined the offer to go boating
I'm a bit confused as to why you would favour 2 over 1. Is this based on feeling or some rule? In Longman's iBT prep., thus can be classified as a transition expression when used with two clauses, with the same meaning as 'consequently' and the punctuation strictly follows the rules of my examples, 1 & 2 both being acceptable as the semi-colon just takes the place of the full-stop. I don't understand why you would discount 1 over 2 unless it is only a result of prefered style.

In the students example however, the clause following 'thus' is not a stand alone clause but is clearly adverbial, using a present participle in place of a subject verb clause, and this is where I'm unsure of the punctuation.

Having said this, I like Woz's suggestion. When in doubt, take it out. [said the doctor to his patient]
If you'll excuse me though Woz, the smallest of corrections: "the company, by diversifying both its pool of suppliers and its business presence in international markets, has systematically insulated itself from a certain degree of risk"
ACCESS_POST_ACTIONS
Signature: That which we cannot speak of, must be passed over in silence...or else tweeted.

Re: The punctuation of Thus

Post by Erik_Kowal » Thu Dec 06, 2012 12:59 am

I was a little severe -- very well, over-hasty -- in my judgment with regard to 1) when I described it as incorrect; but I certainly find it stylistically undesirable.

A further refinement of your student's sentence that is based on WoZ's suggestion:

By diversifying both its pool of suppliers and its business presence in international markets, the company has systematically insulated itself from a certain degree of risk.
ACCESS_POST_ACTIONS
Signature: -- Looking up a word? Try OneLook's metadictionary (--> definitions) and reverse dictionary (--> terms based on your definitions)8-- Contribute favourite diary entries, quotations and more here8 -- Find new postings easily with Active Topics8-- Want to research a word? Get essential tips from experienced researcher Ken Greenwald

Re: The punctuation of Thus

Post by Wizard of Oz » Thu Dec 06, 2012 9:06 am

.. PhilH & Erik .. I always like being refined .. *grin* .. its suits my gentlemanly demeanour ..

WoZ with lace cuffs and cane
ACCESS_POST_ACTIONS
Signature: "The question is," said Alice, "whether you can make words mean so many different things."

Re: The punctuation of Thus

Post by Erik_Kowal » Thu Dec 06, 2012 9:42 am

Wizard of Oz wrote:WoZ with lace cuffs and cane
Not the crude oil, then.
ACCESS_POST_ACTIONS

Re: The punctuation of Thus

Post by Wizard of Oz » Thu Dec 06, 2012 10:07 am

.. I prefer extra virgin ..

WoZ in the grove
ACCESS_POST_ACTIONS
Signature: "The question is," said Alice, "whether you can make words mean so many different things."

ACCESS_END_OF_TOPIC
Post Reply