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    #1

    Is comma needed?

    Yet the main preoccupation of the government and opposition parties appears to be what analysts are describing as an increasingly dysfunctional political system: The man who is in line to become prime minister is linked to the murder of a Mongolian woman(,) whose body was obliterated with military-grade explosives.

    Is a comma needed after 'woman'? I think so.

    Many thanks.

  1. Charlie Bernstein's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: Is comma needed?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tan Elaine View Post
    Yet the main preoccupation of the government and opposition parties appears to be what analysts are describing as an increasingly dysfunctional political system: The man who is in line to become prime minister is linked to the murder of a Mongolian woman(,) whose body was obliterated with military-grade explosives.

    Is a comma needed after 'woman'? I think so.

    Many thanks.
    The comma wars continue....

    It's fine either way. On one hand, the meaning is the same with or without the comma, and there's no confusion that a comma would clear up. Without the comma, "whose body..." explains which body the writer is talking about. With the comma, it's clearly an add-on (a subordinate clause) describing the body. In many cases, that would lead to two different meanings, but it this sentence, it doesn't.

    Now let's see what the teachers say....

  2. konungursvia's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: Is comma needed?

    I agree that a comma is helpful here, but not necessary. Personally I favour it in this case. It is important to remember that in a sense, language is essentially spoken, not written, and our writing is nothing if not a transliteration of the spoken language. In this light, I see the comma in terms of your pronunciation of the sentence. If you "pause" or otherwise intone upwards to indicate a completed semantical unit, then put the comma in. If you drone on flatly at that precise moment, the way we often do in our rather flat American English, leave it out. :)

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    #4

    Re: Is comma needed?

    Thanks, Charlie and Konungursvia.

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