Page 1 of 2 1 2 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 12
  1. #1
    Snappy is offline Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Other
      • Native Language:
      • Japanese
      • Home Country:
      • Japan
      • Current Location:
      • Japan
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Posts
    353
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default a/the poet who wrote this book

    I found this on a website:
    "Alun Lewis is a poet who wrote the love poem, Goodbye, for his wife, and other sensitive, accessible poems, many about his experience of war and separation."

    This usage of the indefinite article confuses me.

    In my understanding,
    the sentence "He is a poet who wrote this book." implies that there may be co-authors who wrote this book. "He is the poet..." implies that only one person wrote the book.

    Is it possible to understand that "He is a poet who wrote this book" is sometimes almost the same in meaning as "He is a poet, who wrote this book." or possible to say "He is a poet who wrote this book." in the following situation?

    My friend: (Looking at a photograph in my room) Who is this guy?

    Snappy: Oh, he is a friend of mine. (Showing my friend the book that he wrote) He is a poet who wrote this book.

    My friend: Wow, that's cool!

  2. #2
    mmasny is offline Key Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Student or Learner
      • Native Language:
      • Polish
      • Home Country:
      • Poland
      • Current Location:
      • Poland
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Posts
    1,704
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: a/the poet who wrote this book

    Quote Originally Posted by Gillnetter View Post
    "He is a poet", is similar to, "He is a truck driver". He is a poet and he wrote this book. This is not the same as, "He is the poet who wrote this book". One could also say, "He is a truck driver and he wrote this book".
    I think there's one problem about what you said. If you were right and the writer's intention was to say "He is a poet and he wrote this book." then there should be a comma there: "He is a poet, who wrote this book".
    In my opinion, there's a mistake here either way, isn't there?

  3. #3
    mmasny is offline Key Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Student or Learner
      • Native Language:
      • Polish
      • Home Country:
      • Poland
      • Current Location:
      • Poland
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Posts
    1,704
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: a/the poet who wrote this book

    I think yes, that's right, at least in this case. That's how I always understood when to put commas in such sentences: when the clause contains additional information about the subject. You even add the word "also" to your sentence. To me it looks very much like a piece of additional information.

    "This is my dad, who talks very much."
    I want to introduce my dad. And also say that he talks too much.

    "This is my dad who talks so much"
    Here's my dad who you talked to on the phone last night.

    That's what I was taught.
    Last edited by mmasny; 26-Feb-2010 at 01:26.

  4. #4
    christopher mark kohler is offline Newbie
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Other
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • Canada
      • Current Location:
      • China
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Posts
    34
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: a/the poet who wrote this book

    Saying "is a poet" implies co-authors as you said, so its a mistake or there are co-authors. If I say "This is my dad, who talks very much" I will pause my speech at the comma and that will sound very strange. If I remove the comma I can say it without pausing and it would sound right.

    My uneducated 2 pesos worth.

  5. #5
    mmasny is offline Key Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Student or Learner
      • Native Language:
      • Polish
      • Home Country:
      • Poland
      • Current Location:
      • Poland
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Posts
    1,704
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: a/the poet who wrote this book

    OK then. That's really good to know. In fact, I always wondered why I had to put commas in such sentences. I knew I didn't make any pauses there, but stuck to the rule I was taught at school. Is it always so that I put commas simply where I make pauses? It would be really good, indeed.

  6. #6
    christopher mark kohler is offline Newbie
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Other
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • Canada
      • Current Location:
      • China
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Posts
    34
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: a/the poet who wrote this book

    Unfortunately i've had second thoughts and now disagree with myself, although in a philosophy assignment i did a few years ago i was marked harshly for using too many commas and am now a bit "comma shy".

    Nevertheless as I hiked the mountain yesterday a sentence got stuck in my head, "This is my father, who talks a lot". That was rather unfortunate, so today i will take an mp3 player.

    If i was in a casual conversation with someone, in my father's presence, I easily could say the sentence "This is my father, who talks a lot" with a definite pause. The meaning would be determined by the tone used. I can use high tone on the "who talks" for a question, which would be wrong. I could exaggerate the words "talks" and "lot" to avoid having it interpreted as a question and to drive home my meaning that dad talks on and on and on.

  7. #7
    mmasny is offline Key Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Student or Learner
      • Native Language:
      • Polish
      • Home Country:
      • Poland
      • Current Location:
      • Poland
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Posts
    1,704
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: a/the poet who wrote this book

    Quote Originally Posted by christopher mark kohler View Post
    Nevertheless as I hiked the mountain yesterday a sentence got stuck in my head, "This is my father, who talks a lot". That was rather unfortunate, so today i will take an mp3 player.
    I'm extremely sorry for being the cause of your suffering.
    Anyway, thank you very much for your attention.

  8. #8
    Raymott's Avatar
    Raymott is offline VIP Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Academic
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • Australia
      • Current Location:
      • Australia
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Posts
    19,663
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: a/the poet who wrote this book

    Quote Originally Posted by Snappy View Post
    I found this on a website:
    "Alun Lewis is a poet who wrote the love poem, Goodbye, for his wife, and other sensitive, accessible poems, many about his experience of war and separation."

    This usage of the indefinite article confuses me.
    My opinion:
    I would use a comma after 'poet'. This is a non-restrictive clause.
    Yes, you could disambiguate it by using 'the' instead of 'a'.

    The usage of commas after 'a' generally follows the rules for a comma after "the".

    Concerning "my father": since people generally only have one father, "This is my father who talks too much" is acceptable, since there is no question of it being a restrictive clause (Which of your fathers?) I'd use a comma anyway just to be consistent.
    Concerning "my grandfather": people usually have two grandfathers, so the usual rules apply - a comma if it's non-restrictive, and no comma is if it's restrictive.

    The ultimate test is whether your sentence is ambiguous, and I agree that the original is ambiguous without a comma.

    I'd question whether Alun Lewis wrote Goodbye for his wife and other poems, though - or whether his wife was a sensitive, accessible poem.

  9. #9
    Snappy is offline Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Other
      • Native Language:
      • Japanese
      • Home Country:
      • Japan
      • Current Location:
      • Japan
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Posts
    353
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: a/the poet who wrote this book

    I am confused.

    In my understanding, "He is my father, who talks very much." is gramatically fine. "who talks very much" is not a question but a relative clause.

    A comma makes the difference.

    I have a son, who lives in England. = I have only one son. He lives in England.
    I have a son who lives in England. = I may have more than one son, and one of them lives in England.

    Is "He is my father who talks very much" okay? Doen't it sound as if I had more than one father?

    What's the difference between "She is his ex-wife, who speaks five languages." and "She is his ex-wife who speaks five languages."?
    I think the latter one is used in the following contest.

    "He married twice in the past. He married a woman who speaks five languages when he was 25. When he was 35, he married another woman who became a fashion designer after she was devorced."

  10. #10
    Raymott's Avatar
    Raymott is offline VIP Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Academic
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • Australia
      • Current Location:
      • Australia
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Posts
    19,663
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: a/the poet who wrote this book

    Quote Originally Posted by Snappy View Post
    I am confused.
    I don't see why. You seem to have a proper understanding of this; and none of it is inconsistent with the above.


    In my understanding, "He is my father, who talks very much." is gramatically fine. "who talks very much" is not a question but a relative clause. Yes.

    A comma makes the difference. Yes.

    I have a son, who lives in England. = I have only one son. He lives in England.
    I have a son who lives in England. = I may have more than one son, and one of them lives in England.
    Exactly.

    Is "He is my father who talks very much" okay?
    No! It is only forgiveable given the the qualifications that I wrote about. Generally, you must use a comma.

    Doen't it sound as if I had more than one father?
    Yes, you absolutely need a comma for a non-restrictive clause like this. My sentence - in blatant disregard for this rule - can only be excused under the circumstances I explained, and which I now regret mentioning.


    What's the difference between "She is his ex-wife, who speaks five languages." and "She is his ex-wife who speaks five languages."?
    I think the latter one is used in the following contest.

    "He married twice in the past. He married a woman who speaks five languages when he was 25. When he was 35, he married another woman who became a fashion designer after she was devorced."
    You are not confused. You understand the rule for using commas perfectly. Ignore anything I have written to the contrary.

Page 1 of 2 1 2 LastLast

Similar Threads

  1. what makes a good book?
    By lizbet in forum Editing & Writing Topics
    Replies: 6
    Last Post: 01-Mar-2009, 18:59
  2. can I make a book that book?
    By flytothesky in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 5
    Last Post: 08-Feb-2009, 03:58
  3. mini book report needs to be edit please
    By tofu in forum Editing & Writing Topics
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 03-Jan-2009, 21:45
  4. May Might Can Could
    By beachboy in forum Teaching English
    Replies: 15
    Last Post: 23-Jan-2008, 19:20
  5. Replies: 2
    Last Post: 04-May-2007, 00:48

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •