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  1. #1
    WASTHEBEST Guest

    Default Is this correct: Get the apple, in the basket, that is red.

    "Get the apple, in the basket, that is red."

    I often use the structure of the example sentence (above.) The usage note on dictionary.com states that "The standard rule requires that that should be used only to introduce a restrictive (or defining) relative clause, which identifies the entity being talked about; in this use it should never be preceded by a comma."

    Am I correct to use that in the manner I did above? Is it ever correct to use that after a comma? If so, please explain.

  2. #2
    Sam-F Guest

    Default

    Hi Wasthebest,

    I agree with the dicionary's stipulation that the word "that" in there should not be preceded by a comma. So:

    --Get the apple in the basket that is red

    is ok, and

    --Get the red apple that is in the basket

    is even better.


    In this usage you don't want any commas. As for the question of whether you ever use "that" after a comma, th only usage I can think of is if you have an aside that is bracketed between commas, such as

    --He said, jokingly, that my voice sounded great.

    I wouldn't really say that this counted, however, since "jokingly" in this case isn't part of the main clause: "He said that my voice was great." Off hand, I can't think of any cases where "that" needs to be preceded by a comma in the main clause (though that doesn't mean that there aren't any).

  3. #3
    WASTHEBEST Guest

    Default

    Hi Sam F,

    Here is another (second) example: Give me the apple, in a wrapper, that is in the basket.

    The meaning I want to give to the first example is "Get the red apple in the basket." The example was simple enough such that alternatives are readily apparent; but that is not always the case. I view the purpose of the commas, in the example, is to make the sentence into the two
    implicit sentences:
    -Get the apple in the basket.
    -Get the apple that is red.
    Yet, because the two sentence are joined, they refer to the same action and apple:
    -Get the apple A in the basket.
    -Get the apple A that is red.

    In my second example, it is difficult to structure the sentence otherwise without making its meaning ambiguous. I know of an alternative way to write the sentence. I challenge anyone to find one.

  4. #4
    Sam-F Guest

    Default

    I'd still say that the commas should not be there.

    To be super precise, an alternative could be

    ---Give me the apple that is in a wrapper that is in the basket

    Thst's obviously rather chunky, though.

    ---Give me the apple that is in a wrapper in the basket

    also works fine, and is less clunky.

    I agree that it is a slightly awkward sentence, but putting commas around it isn't a way to solve it. Note that, if you were saying the sentence out-loud, you might well pause exactly where you put those commas in order to make the sentence clearer. Pauses, however, are not perfect indicators of comma placement.

    Sorry I can't give a better explanation as to why those commas are unnecessary, hopfully someone else will reply who is better at explaining ;)

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Is this correct: Get the apple, in the basket, that is r

    Quote Originally Posted by WASTHEBEST
    "Get the apple, in the basket, that is red."
    In addition, let's assume the sentences below are spoken rather than written so we can avoid the comma issue altogether.

    1. Get the apple that's red in the basket.
    2. Get the apple in the basket that's red.

    In 1. 'that' refers to the closest noun, 'apple', and in 2. 'that' refers to the closest noun, 'basket'.

    The thing about relative pronouns is that they refer back to the closest noun, and the reason 'that' modifies 'basket' (3b) and not 'apple' (3a):

    3a. Get the apple in the basket that's red. (Not OK)
    3b. Get the apple in the basket that's red. (OK)

    As for positioning 'in the basket' between the noun 'apple' and its modifier 'that's red':

    4. Get the apple, in the basket, that's red. (Not OK)

    Again, since 'that' modifies the closest noun, 'basket' being the closest noun is modified. So, you see, the commas can't separate the noun 'basket' from the pronoun 'that'.

  6. #6
    WASTHEBEST Guest

    Default Re: Is this correct: Get the apple, in the basket, that is r

    That is incredibly devastating news to me Casiopea. I would greatly appreciate it if anyone gives a source of the rule by which that must modify the nearest noun.

    By the way, another way to write my second example: Give me, wrapped, the apple in the basket.

  7. #7
    Sway Guest

    Default Re: Is this correct: Get the apple, in the basket, that is r

    Quote Originally Posted by WASTHEBEST
    By the way, another way to write my second example: Give me, wrapped, the apple in the basket.
    I am no English teacher, but I can tell you that I have never heard nor seen written anything like you just said.

    I am pretty sure I understand what you want to get across, and the first thing that comes to my head of what to say would be something like:

    Please give me one of those wrapped apples from the basket.

    I am not sure what the exact best grammar structure would be to phrase this... but I think it would be something that combines wrapped and apple.

  8. #8
    Sway Guest

    Default

    for your first post

    Take 'that red apple' from the basket. (if there is only one red apple in the basket)

    or

    Take 'one of those red apples' from the basket. (if there is more than one red apple in the basket and you don't want to specify a specific one)

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Is this correct: Get the apple, in the basket, that is r

    Quote Originally Posted by WASTHEBEST
    By the way, another way to write my second example: Give me, wrapped, the apple in the basket.
    In both examples, 'that' refers to the closest noun 'apple':

    Give me the wrapped apple that's in the basket.
    Give me, wrapped, the apple that's in the basket.

    'wrapped' is an adjective. :wink:

  10. #10
    WASTHEBEST Guest

    Default

    Sorry Casiopea, 'wrapped' can be a verb; see dictionary.com.

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