Blog 4

Nonrestrictive relative clauses and similar clauses

Nonrestrictive relative clauses and similar clauses introduced by conjunctions denoting place or time are parenthetic. Therefore, commas are required. A sentence that does not serve to define or identify the antecedent noun is said to be nonrestrictive.

The initially uninterested audience gradually started to take an interest.

When Napoleon was born in 1769, France had just lately taken possession of Corsica.

A few miles away from Bridgewater is Nether Stowey, the location where Coleridge composed The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.

Which, When, and Where clauses in these phrases are nonrestrictive; they do not limit or define; rather, they merely add something. In the first example, the reader already likely understands which of multiple potential audiences is intended, therefore the sentence introduced by which serves no use. A sentence that completes the main clause is added in parentheses to the clause. Each of the three sentences combines two independent statements that may have been stated.

At first, the audience was uninterested. Later, it started to show increasing attention.

In 1769, Napoleon was conceived. Corsica had only recently been captured by France at that time.

At Nether Stowey, Coleridge penned The Rime of the Ancient Mariner. A few miles separate Bridgewater from Nether Stowey.

Contrarily, restrictive clauses are not parenthetic and are not separated by commas. People should not throw stones since they live in glass houses.

Here, the who clause serves to clarify which individuals are intended; unlike the phrases before, this one cannot be broken down into two separate claims.

Both participial phrases and appositives should be separated by commas, according to the same rule.

Written by: Name Style
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