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    • Join Date: Jul 2005
    • Posts: 928
    #1

    commas ...

    Hi,

    could you please explain the use of commas in the following sentence:

    An elderly small-featured man, wearing a felt hat rather than the round beret more common to the region, picks up the sad brown dog from between my legs with a look of polite apology. (Why is the part starting with "wearing" set off by commas? Is this unnecessary extra info?)

    Thank you very much.

    Hanka

  1. MikeNewYork's Avatar
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      • Native Language:
      • American English
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      • United States
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    • Join Date: Nov 2002
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    #2

    Re: commas ...

    Quote Originally Posted by Hanka View Post
    Hi,

    could you please explain the use of commas in the following sentence:

    An elderly small-featured man, wearing a felt hat rather than the round beret more common to the region, picks up the sad brown dog from between my legs with a look of polite apology. (Why is the part starting with "wearing" set off by commas? Is this unnecessary extra info?)

    Thank you very much.

    Hanka
    Yes. As written it is a participial phrase describing the man. It could be changed into a nonrestrictive relative clause by adding "who was" before "wearing". That would still be set off by commas.

  2. rewboss's Avatar

    • Join Date: Feb 2006
    • Posts: 1,552
    #3

    Re: commas ...

    If you didn't use the commas here, it would mean that there was more than elderly small-featured man nearby, and that one of them was wearing a felt hat; it was this man who picked up the dog.

    With commas, it means something slightly different: A man picked the dog; and this man was elderly, small-featured and wearing a felt hat.

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