|Grammatically Correct 1/4/05
A weekly grammar tip created by Student Success Center Peer Writing Tutors.
University of Houston-Victoria
3007 N. Ben Wilson
Victoria, TX 77901
|Identifying and Punctuating Non-Restrictive
by John Davis
A non-restrictive clause, which needs to be surrounded by commas if it is in the middle of the sentence, adds information about some part of the sentence but it does not change the meaning of the sentence when it is removed.
In order to understand what a non-restrictive clause is, look at the previous sentence for the non-restrictive clause (it's the part in italics). Would the meaning of the sentence be changed if the italicized portion were removed? No, the main idea of the sentence tells what a non-restrictive clause does, and the information about its punctuation is extra—not crucial to the definition.
When you use a restrictive clause it is important to punctuate it correctly or the meaning of the sentence could change drastically. As shown in the definition, when the non-restrictive clause is placed in the middle of the sentence, it needs to be surrounded by commas. If the non-restrictive clause is placed at the end of the sentence, it needs a comma before it and a period at the end to complete the sentence.
Example 1: Non-restrictive clauses in the middles of sentences
The fire alarm, which was installed last year, is extremely loud.
Note: let’s take the commas out and reread the sentence
The fire alarm which was installed last year is extremely loud.
In the first sentence, the clause beginning with which adds information about the fire alarm and assumes there is only one fire alarm. When the commas are removed, the clause becomes restrictive, it identifies the fire alarm that was installed last year as separate from other fire alarms that are implied in the sentence.
Example 2: Non-restrictive clauses at the ends of sentences
Jenny went to her algebra class, which she had skipped for the last three weeks.
The apple on the counter was beginning to go bad, which made Mister Anderson very angry.
|Recommended Grammar Website of the Week
by John Davis
|This week's recommended grammar website is UsingEnglish.com.
This site has a glossary of English language terms that provides definitions
for English terms such as superlative or phrasal
verb. The site also has some grammar tests and a discussion group
in which beginning speakers and advanced speakers of English can ask each
other questions when they come across something confusing.
Visit UsingEnglish.com at http://www.usingenglish.com/
|Test Your Knowledge
by John Davis
|Underline the portion of the sentence that is a non-restrictive
clause and punctuate correctly.
1. The grandfather clock in the hall began to chime at midnight which is known as the witching hour.
2. The electricity in your home which runs on a 60-hertz cycle can
easily be used to summon powerful forces from the dark side of the netherworld
using just a few common household items.
1. The grandfather clock in the hall began to chime at midnight, which is known as the witching hour.
2. The electricity in your home, which runs on a 60-hertz cycle, can easily be used to summon powerful forces from the dark side of the netherworld using just a few common household items.
3. The vampire finished drinking his victim’s blood, which happened to be AB positive.
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