Restrictive and Nonrestrictive Adjective Clauses

When deciding if to put commas around a clause, keep in mind two basic rules: Nonrestrictive An adjective clause that can be omitted from a sentence without affecting the basic meaning of the sentence should be set off by commas. Example: Marcia Gomes, who was not sitting down, just got a detention. (Here the person is named specifically. We know whom the sentence is about. The clause who was not sitting down does add information, but it is not necessary to identify the noun it modifies. Drop the clause and we still know who got the punishment: "Marcia Gomes just got a detention.") Restrictive An adjective clause that cannot be omitted from a sentence without affecting the basic meaning of the sentence should NOT be set off by commas. Example: Any student not sitting down will get detention. (This takes no comma because the phrase not sitting down is necessary to identify the noun. Remove it, and you get something very different: "Any student will get a detention.") Further examples Note the distinction and the different punctuation in the following pairs of sentences: Non-restrictive William Carlos Williams, the poet, was also a farmer. Restrictive The poet William Carlos Williams was also a farmer. Non-restrictive John, who has been drinking, should not drive. Restrictive People who have been drinking should not drive. Non-restrictive Many Americans travel to Mexico, where Laetrile is legal and readily available. Restrictive Many Americans travel to countries where Laetrile is legal and readily available. Non-restrictive In spring, when the water is high, the lake surges over the rocks. Restrictive At times when the water is high the lake surges over the rocks. Non-restrictive The waiters, dressed in their white jackets, are already arranging the chairs on the sidewalk. Restrictive The waiters dressed in white jackets serve in the main dining room; those in red serve in the coffee shop.

Students who have young children are invited to use the free daycare center. Of all the books that I have read this year. 8.Practice: Identifying Restrictive and Nonrestrictive Clauses For each sentence below. Mary's mother who is active in community affairs is chair of the school committee. 1. I lent some money to Earl whose house was destroyed in the flood. 12. 17. Merdine who was born in a boxcar somewhere in Arkansas grows homesick every time she hears the wail of a train whistle. I like Woolf's novel To the Lighthouse (1927) the best. 13. . 3. 4. 9. 2. A physician who smokes and overeats has no right to criticize the personal habits of his patients. The thing that impresses me the most about America is the way parents obey their children. The beer that made Milwaukee famous has made a loser out of me. add commas based on if the adjective clause is restrictive or nonrestrictive. 10. 6. 16. 11. A child who screams for attention is best ignored. 15. 7. 5. Sacco and Vanzetti who may have been innocent were executed in 1927 seven years after their conviction. 14. I left my son at the campus daycare center which is free to all full-time students. My new running shoes which cost more than a hundred dollars fell apart during the marathon. My grandparents who have poor eyesight and cannot enjoy TV listen to the radio every night. All the first-year students who are on academic probation are required to see the Dean. John Wayne who appeared in over 200 movies was the biggest box-office attraction of his time. I refuse to live in any house that Jack built. Few jobs which an untrained person can get pay well.

4. 3. The beer that made Milwaukee famous has made a loser out of me. John Wayne. 11. was the biggest box-office attraction of his time. I like Woolf's novel To the Lighthouse (1927) the best. seven years after their conviction. Of all the books that I have read this year. 12. All the first-year students who are on academic probation are required to see the Dean. I refuse to live in any house that Jack built. I left my son at the campus daycare center. My new running shoes. whose house was destroyed in the flood. who is active in community affairs. A child who screams for attention is best ignored. 5. 15. Few jobs which an untrained person can get pay well. 7. 10. who appeared in over 200 movies. Students who have young children are invited to use the free daycare center. 13. grows homesick every time she hears the wail of a train whistle. 6. 16. who may have been innocent. fell apart during the marathon. who was born in a boxcar somewhere in Arkansas. were executed in 1927. 17. 2. A physician who smokes and overeats has no right to criticize the personal habits of his patients. 14. which cost more than a hundred dollars. is chair of the school committee. who have poor eyesight and cannot enjoy TV. which is free to all full-time students. I lent some money to Earl. My grandparents. 8.Answers 1. Merdine. The thing that impresses me the most about America is the way parents obey their children. listen to the radio every night. 9. . Sacco and Vanzetti. Mary's mother.

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