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  1. #1
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    Default My sister, who is even deafer than I am, is named Linda.

    Is the writer trying to say that basically the condition for 1 and 2 are the same, but depending on what you are trying to emphasize - related to judgment calls - you can express in one way or the other? Do 1 and 2 have at least one more sister except Linda?


    Comma Usage: Restrictive vs. Nonrestrictive Relative Clauses
    Judgment Calls
    Sometimes whether to treat a relative clause as restrictive or nonrestrictive is simply a judgment call.

    1. My sister, who is even deafer than I am, is named Linda. In this example, the information that Linda "is even deafer than I am" is extra. Since the main clause names the sister as Linda, the information in the relative clause is not necessary to identify which of the writer's sisters he is referring to.

    But this relative clause could be treated as restrictive, giving the sentence a slightly different meaning:
    2. My sister who is even deafer than I am is named Linda.This version of the sentence indicates that the purpose is to call the reader's attention to a specific sister--the one "who is even deafer than I am," as opposed to one or more other sisters who are not.
    This is an important point: sometimes whether a clause is restrictive or nonrestrictive is determined by subtleties of meaning, and it is up to the writer to make sure that the sentence says exactly what he means.
    Last edited by keannu; 30-Jul-2012 at 13:26.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: My sister, who is even deafer than I am, is named Linda.

    I disagree with the suggestion that the first could be interpreted as restrictive. That's what the commas do: they tell you that what is between them is non-essential, non-restrictive information.
    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.

  3. #3
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: My sister, who is even deafer than I am, is named Linda.

    It's not very convincing to me- there can be cases where the distinction is close, but I do know how many sisters I have. I don't think this example is very good.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: My sister, who is even deafer than I am, is named Linda.

    Sorry, but "But this relative clause could be treated as restrictive" refers to the next example, not the previous one. I arranged the original text, not in the original way.
    I'd like to buy this "judgement calls" part in the link, as it can only explain why "a noun" can have either restrictive or non-restrictive clause. If you could take a look at the link, it would be highly appreciated.
    Comma Usage: Restrictive vs. Nonrestrictive Relative Clauses

  5. #5
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    Default Re: My sister, who is even deafer than I am, is named Linda.

    The same words can be restrictive or non-restrictive. The use of commas is a sure sign, to me, that it's non-restrictive.

    An additional clue: if you use "that" instead of "which" (and yes, people do use "that" instead of "who" for people sometimes), it can't be non-restrictive.
    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: My sister, who is even deafer than I am, is named Linda.

    Okay, the final question! One of my purposes was to check out if non-restrictive clause is also possible for an unspecific noun with an indefinite article of "a" as in 1a, and I found a similiar example as in judgement calls in the following.
    If the first example in this thread is not good, I won't adopt it. But what do you think of the other example of "the theater"?

    1a. A man, who looked decidedly drunk, ran across the road in front of me.
    1b. A man who looked decidedly drunk ran across the road in front of me.

    Comma Usage: Restrictive vs. Nonrestrictive Relative Clauses
    Judgment Calls
    ~My daughter recently attended a Shakespearean play that was being performed at the rebuilt Globe Theater in London.
    In this case, the relative clause "that was being performed at the rebuilt Globe Theater in London" is restrictive because it is being used to specify which Shakespearean play she attended. There are many Shakespearean plays, and they are being performed all the time in many places. The relative clause narrows the field of candidates down to one.
    But this is another sentence where the relative clause could be treated as nonrestrictive, giving a slightly different meaning to the sentence:
    ~My daughter recently attended a Shakespearean play, which was being performed at the rebuilt Globe Theater in London.
    This version of the sentence emphasizes the fact that the play was being performed in the rebuilt Globe Theater, not which play she attended.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: My sister, who is even deafer than I am, is named Linda.

    While overall, I thought that site you linked me to was good, I just don't agree here. You do not narrow down the play to only one play. There could be seven or eight plays showing at the Globe - As You Like It on Saturday Matinees, The Taming of the Shrew on Saturday nights, The Tempest of Sunday afternoons, etc. It would be restrictive if the writer has used "the" - The Shakespearean play that is being performed... that means there's only one.

    The first is no more restrictive than "I saw a cute cat that had three white socks." There are probably millions of cats that have three white marks around its feet.

    Now, if you had said to me "There are three cute cats that live in that house. Look for them as you walk by" and I said "I saw the cute cat with the three white socks" you'd know which cat I meant.
    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: My sister, who is even deafer than I am, is named Linda.

    Quote Originally Posted by keannu View Post
    Okay, the final question! One of my purposes was to check out if non-restrictive clause is also possible for an unspecific noun with an indefinite article of "a" as in 1a, and I found a similiar example as in judgement calls in the following.
    If the first example in this thread is not good, I won't adopt it. But what do you think of the other example of "the theater"?

    1a. A man, who looked decidedly drunk, ran across the road in front of me.
    1b. A man who looked decidedly drunk ran across the road in front of me.

    Comma Usage: Restrictive vs. Nonrestrictive Relative Clauses
    Judgment Calls
    ~My daughter recently attended a Shakespearean play that was being performed at the rebuilt Globe Theater in London.
    In this case, the relative clause "that was being performed at the rebuilt Globe Theater in London" is restrictive because it is being used to specify which Shakespearean play she attended. There are many Shakespearean plays, and they are being performed all the time in many places. The relative clause narrows the field of candidates down to one.
    But this is another sentence where the relative clause could be treated as nonrestrictive, giving a slightly different meaning to the sentence:
    ~My daughter recently attended a Shakespearean play, which was being performed at the rebuilt Globe Theater in London.
    This version of the sentence emphasizes the fact that the play was being performed in the rebuilt Globe Theater, not which play she attended.
    The fact that the words are the same is irrelevant.

    In the first, there is no comma; it's restrictive. In the second there's a comma; it's non-restrictive. In speech, the two sentences will be uttered with different stress patterns and pauses. They are different sentences that happen to use the same words.

    It's actually not very common for this to happen, but it can. The way the words are spoken or punctuated, often with the helo of context or co-text, usually makes the intended meaning clear. If it doesn't, clarification will be sought. Native speakers get the speech patterns correct in the same way that they get nearly all speech patterns correct - they have learnt through experience. (Actually, we don't use non-restrictive clauses in speech much, but that's not too relevant.) We have to learn how to punctuate them differently at school, and some people never learn this, but that's not really relevant, either.
    Please do not edit your question after it has received a response. Such editing can make the response hard for others to understand.


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