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    #1

    comma, that (relative pronoun)

    God has given us authority, that we can wield in prayer, to blind Satan. (Brian Mills, Three Times Three Equals Twelve, page 84)

    I was taught that the relative pronoun that should not be placed after a comma. Is the above sentence acceptable?
    Last edited by sitifan; 16-Nov-2015 at 13:42.
    I need native speakers' help.

  1. Piscean's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: comma, that (relative pronoun)

    It is acceptable.

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    #3

    Re: comma, that (relative pronoun)

    Neither of the commas is needed.

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    #4

    Re: comma, that (relative pronoun)

    I agree with Mike that the commas are not necessary, I wouldn't have used them, but I also agree with Piscean that they are acceptable.
    “Every miserable fool who has nothing at all of which he can be proud, adopts as a last resource pride in the nation to which he belongs; he is ready and happy to defend all its faults and follies tooth and nail, thus reimbursing himself for his own inferiority.”

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    #5

    Re: comma, that (relative pronoun)

    ***** NOT A TEACHER *****


    Hello, Sitifan:

    May I just contribute a few ideas to your thread?

    1. I think that you should always remember that punctuation is often a matter of style. Therefore, one cannot be rigid (that is, one cannot always follow the "rules" 100%).

    2. I suggest that you read aloud each sentence three times:

    a. To blind Satan, God has given us authority that we can wield in prayer.

    b. God has given us authority, that we can wield in prayer, to blind Satan.

    c. God has given us authority that we can wield in prayer to blind Satan.

    In my opinion, the writer of sentence 2b used commas because s/he did not want to overemphasize the adjective clause. In fact, s/he could have written it this way: "God has given us authority (that we can wield in prayer) to blind Satan."

    Now look at 2c. No commas (or pauses in speaking). The adjective clause is given the same importance that it has been given in 2a.

    Again, please read those sentences aloud several times, and you will probably get an idea of what I am trying (very badly) to explain.

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    #6

    Re: comma, that (relative pronoun)

    I'm one of the people who uses "which" for non-restrictive modification.
    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.

  5. Matthew Wai's Avatar
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    #7

    Re: comma, that (relative pronoun)

    Quote Originally Posted by Barb_D View Post
    uses "which" for non-restrictive modification.
    Is that a rule or just a guideline?
    I am not a teacher.

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    #8

    Re: comma, that (relative pronoun)

    Barb presented it as neither.

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    #9

    Re: comma, that (relative pronoun)

    ***** NOT A TEACHER *****


    Post #7 has raised an important point.

    Most American teachers have a clear rule:

    "that" for defining clauses.
    "which" for non-defining clauses.

    I had assumed that the OP's clause "that we can wield in prayer" was defining because of the word "that."

    Post #6 reminded me, however, that the author of that sentence might have meant it to be non-defining.

    IF that is the case, then the author should have written -- according to American rules --the sentence as:

    "God has give us authority, which we can wield in prayer, to blind Satan."

    And that means that Sitifan is 100% correct: there should be no comma before the relative pronoun "that" (only before "which").

    Of course, I do not know what the author intended.

  7. Piscean's Avatar
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    #10

    Re: comma, that (relative pronoun)

    Huddleston and Pullum (The Cambridge Grammar of Modern English, 2002.1025) say that who and which are normally (my emphasis) used in non-restrictive clause, but add that some speakers do accept that. I use who and which, but accept that.The original sentence, with that in a non-restrictive clause, did not strike me as strange.

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