A comma after 'By no means'


Could you please tell me which of the following seems more natural to you?

1- By no means[color=red][size=150],[/size] I meant to harm you.
2- By no means I meant to harm you.


Hi Tom

You don’t need a comma, but you do need inversion: :wink:

By no means did I mean to harm you.


by no means, did i mean to harm you

Hi Gypsy1900, your phrase looks a bit strange with the comma. Also, what other more important punctuation marks such as the period/full stop? And while we are it, why don’t you start your sentence with a capital letter and spell the personal pronoun ‘I’ correctly? Please note that this is a place where people want to improve their grammar skills. Why ignore such obvious things?[YSaerTTEW443543]

TOEIC listening, photographs: Getting water[YSaerTTEW443543]

It’s laziness torsten, pure and simple. I’ll try to mend my evil ways. I certainly did not mean to offend.

That would be great, Gypsy. Thanks a lot.[YSaerTTEW443543]

TOEIC listening, photographs: Coast fishing[YSaerTTEW443543]

In order to put the ‘with comma’ or ‘without comma’ issue to rest, here is a link to a search of the
New York Times – a search for this particular sentence construction.

There’s not a single comma to be found after “by no means”. :wink:


“By no means” has several related meanings: in no way, not at all, definitely not.
The decision to use a comma or not is very important because a comma can change the meaning completely!

“By no means I meant to harm you.” means By no means did I mean to harm you. I didn’t mean to harm you.
If that is the intended meaning, and I assume that it is, we cannot use a comma!

“By no means, I meant to harm you.” can easily be interpreted to mean I did mean to harm you. A comma signifies a pause and can easily give the impression of two separate thoughts with completely changed meaning.

A… I guess you feel pretty bad even though you didn’t mean to harm me.
B…“By no means, I meant to harm you.” can be interpreted as By no means do i feel bad; I meant to harm you.
Of course one can make this meaning more definite by putting an exclamation mark at the end of the sentence or having two separate sentences, but even with a period the comma can change the meaning, or at least make it unclear.

There are some classic examples of a comma completely changing the meaning of a sentence but I can’t think of any good examples now. I am sure someone here can.

…I can’t take part in your interesting comma-discussion (as my commas-in-English-knowledge leave(s) much to be desired :)), but can just say that I’ve failed to find in BNC even a single example of ‘By no means’ followed by comma…

Hi Canadian,

Gosh this is getting convoluted! Your sentence:

strikes me as odd as I can’t quite match by no means with I feel. In other words I can’t link by no means with expressing a feeling. To me methods and feelings don’t jell. In no way do I feel is perhaps a happier union.