COMMA, or No COMMA

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    Jul 12, 2013 10:31 PM GMT
    THIS THREAD IS NOW CLOSED.

    Okay, maybe I've read too many books that don't always follow the rules. Would you put a comma before the who in these?

    1. Paul turned to Joe who was now asleep in his chair.

    2. He eventually sold it to a Midwestern family who had three children of their own.

    From what I read, if the clause after "who" is needed to identify the subject it is referring to, then you don't need a comma. Like in the sentence below:

    3. The boy who broke our window brought some flowers to the door.

    From that example, I would think a comma would be required in sentence #1:

    Paul turned to Joe, who was now asleep in his chair.

    But what about sentence #2?

    He eventually sold it to a Midwestern family, who had three children of their own.
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    Jul 12, 2013 10:43 PM GMT
    In the 2nd one the "their" disambiguates it.
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    Jul 12, 2013 10:45 PM GMT
    Even in the first one it seems clear to me that the "who" doesn't refer to Paul. If Paul was asleep he wouldn't be turning to Joe.
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    Jul 12, 2013 10:46 PM GMT
    And in both cases I think adding the comma stresses the second clause and subtly makes it more important than it would otherwise be, which in some cases may be wanted.
  • AMoonHawk

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    Jul 12, 2013 10:50 PM GMT
    1. Paul turned to Joe, who was now asleep in his chair.

    2. He eventually sold it to a Midwestern family that had three children of their own.
  • TheBizMan

    Posts: 4091

    Jul 12, 2013 10:51 PM GMT
    I'm no comma expert (though I do know some other technical comma applications), but I put them where I feel there should be a natural pause.

    A lot of times that's wrong.

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    Jul 12, 2013 10:58 PM GMT
    None of the above. Neither sentence contains a non-restrictive appositive, and pauses do not = commas. That's how I remember it. And Jane Eyre seems to follow that.
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    Jul 12, 2013 11:00 PM GMT
    Here is a page that tries to explain usage:

    http://www.grammar-monster.com/lessons/which_that_who_comma_or_not.htm
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    Jul 12, 2013 11:02 PM GMT
    Good thing I don't teach grammar, or write for a living.
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    Jul 12, 2013 11:05 PM GMT
    Aristoshark saidNumber two does not require a comma, but as noted above, the "who" should be "that". "Who" never describes a unit, in this case a family.


    I was taught the general rule of thumb is to use who when talking about a person and that when talking about an object.
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    Jul 12, 2013 11:38 PM GMT
    Some day we'll discuss the difference between
    "He will"
    and
    "He shall."
    That's the point when my eyes go 'round.
  • starboard5

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    Jul 13, 2013 4:28 AM GMT
    Comma #1, no comma #2.
  • starboard5

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    Jul 13, 2013 4:30 AM GMT
    AMoonHawk said1. Paul turned to Joe, who was now asleep in his chair.

    2. He eventuallyly sold it to a Midwestern family that had three children of their own.



    Or:
    He eventually sold it to a Midwestern family with three children of their own.
    (?)
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    Jul 13, 2013 4:31 AM GMT
    AMoonHawk said1. Paul turned to Joe, who was now asleep in his chair.

    2. He eventually sold it to a Midwestern family that had three children of their own.

    +
    Aristoshark saidNumber two does not require a comma, but as noted above, the "who" should be "that". "Who" never describes a unit, in this case a family.

    =
    I'm not sure if that's correct because "who" is both singular and plural

    ie: The family who prays together blablabla

    Also my pet peeve, and I don't know if this is regulation or just me, is what I view as the objectifying of people with "that". I save my objectifying for sex.

    Hold on ::::rifles through shelving:::

    Got my old AP Style Book. This is from 1984 so I don't know if rules have changed...

    page 219 "who, whom Use who and whom for references to human beings and to animals with a name. Use that and which for inanimate objects and animals without a name."

    okay, and then it goes into the who/whom stuff.

    To my ear, I'd have said the family which, not the family that but family is a reference to human beings, not to an inanimate object therefore who, according to this, might be correct, if not by grammar than at least by the Associated Press.

    EDIT: now according to my Harbace:

    "Use who or that instead of which to refer to persons. So the "that" part is contrary to AP.
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    Jul 13, 2013 4:33 AM GMT
    None of the examples you gave need commas. And honestly, punctuation should be used to replicate your own natural speech. So if you would pause if you were saying it out loud, then you'd want to insert a comma so the reader knows to pause during the read.
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    Jul 13, 2013 4:38 AM GMT
    wrestlervic saidOkay, maybe I've read too many books that don't always follow the rules. Would you put a comma before the who in these?

    1. Paul turned to Joe, who was now asleep in his chair.

    As others have already noted, there should definitely be a comma after 'Joe'. Everything that comes after 'Joe' in that sentence is non-essential information.

    wrestlervic said
    2. He eventually sold it to a Midwestern family who had three children of their own.

    From what I read, if the clause after "who" is needed to identify the subject it is referring to, then you don't need a comma. Like in the sentence below:

    3. The boy who broke our window brought some flowers to the door.


    Again as others have already mentioned, 'who' is the wrong word here. Use of the comma depends on whether you consider "who had three children of their own" to be a restrictive element or a non-restrictive element. The sentence could read in one of two ways:

    1) He eventually sold it to a Midwestern family that had three children of their own. (restrictive)
    2) He eventually sold it to a Midwestern family, which had three children of their own. (non-restrictive)

    In your third sentence, "who broke our window" is a restrictive element; that is to say, you can't identify who "the boy" is without it. For the second sentence, I would argue that the use of 'that' or 'which' depends on whether you want to emphasize the fact that the Midwestern family has three children of their own. A restrictive construction implies that the information is essential, while a non-restrictive construction implies that the information is supplementary but not essential to what you are reading.
  • coyoteandhawk

    Posts: 25

    Jul 13, 2013 4:44 AM GMT
    starboard5 said
    AMoonHawk said1. Paul turned to Joe, who was now asleep in his chair.

    2. He eventuallyly sold it to a Midwestern family that had three children of their own.



    Or:
    He eventually sold it to a Midwestern family with three children of their own.
    (?)


    I agree. As I remember, using fewer words and more concise wording is preferred for clarity. Conversational styles tends to be wordier.
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    Jul 13, 2013 4:58 AM GMT
    juvenescences said...Again as others have already mentioned, 'who' is the wrong word here. Use of the comma depends on whether you consider "who had three children of their own" to be a restrictive element or a non-restrictive element. The sentence could read in one of two ways:

    1) He eventually sold it to a Midwestern family that had three children of their own. (restrictive)
    2) He eventually sold it to a Midwestern family, which had three children of their own. (non-restrictive)
    ...


    um, no.

    Simply changing that to which does not change a modifier from restrictive to non-restrictive.

    Back to Harbrace...

    NONRESTRICTIVE He spent hours nursing the Indian guides, who were sick with malaria. [He cared for all the Indian guides. They were all sick with malaria.]

    RESTRICTIVE He spent hours nursing the Indian guides who were sick with malaria. [Some of the Indian guides were sick with malaria. He cared only for the sick ones.]
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    Jul 13, 2013 5:27 AM GMT
    All this talk of restrictive and non-restrictive has me hot (BDSM).

    I went with AMoonHawk and multiple sources comfirm it. Here's another comma usage that I tended to ignore in the past:

    Peter entered Casper, Wyoming just after noon.

    There should be a second comma after the state:

    Peter entered Casper, Wyoming, just after noon.

    This is a prime example of how commas aren't always just for pauses. You don't usually pause reading the above sentence.
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    Jul 13, 2013 5:28 AM GMT
    1. Correct as is.
    2. Wrong on so many levels.
    3. Correct as is.

    You might try rewriting sentence 2 as:
    Eventually, he sold it to a Midwestern couple that had three children of their own. Weeks later, they, in turn, burned it to the ground to collect on the insurance. He kicked himself for not having thought of it.
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    Jul 13, 2013 5:31 AM GMT
    wrestlervic saidAll this talk of restrictive and non-restrictive has me hot (BDSM).

    I went with AMoonHawk and multiple sources comfirm it. Here's another comma usage that I tended to ignore in the past:

    Peter entered Casper, Wyoming just after noon.

    There should be a second comma after the state:

    Peter entered Casper, Wyoming, just after noon.

    This is a prime example of how commas are always just for pauses. You don't usually pause reading the above sentence.


    This one I would change as follows:
    Peter entered Casper shortly after leaving Wyoming.

    Do you see how this is better?
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    Jul 13, 2013 5:35 AM GMT
    shortbutsweet said
    wrestlervic saidAll this talk of restrictive and non-restrictive has me hot (BDSM).

    I went with AMoonHawk and multiple sources comfirm it. Here's another comma usage that I tended to ignore in the past:

    Peter entered Casper, Wyoming just after noon.

    There should be a second comma after the state:

    Peter entered Casper, Wyoming, just after noon.

    This is a prime example of how commas are always just for pauses. You don't usually pause reading the above sentence.


    This one I would change as follows:
    Peter entered Casper shortly after leaving Wyoming.

    Do you see how this is better?


    You're funny. Casper is a city in Wyoming.
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    Jul 13, 2013 5:37 AM GMT
    wrestlervic saidYou're funny. Casper is a city in Wyoming.


    Nevertheless.
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    Jul 13, 2013 5:40 AM GMT
    AMoonHawk said1. Paul turned to Joe, who was now asleep in his chair.

    2. He eventually sold it to a Midwestern family that had three children of their own.


    That has*
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    Jul 13, 2013 5:57 AM GMT
    theantijock said
    Simply changing that to which does not change a modifier from restrictive to non-restrictive.

    I never said it did - please reread carefully. The comma is what determines restrictive versus non-restrictive in this example. With a restrictive clause, you can use "that" or "which" as two possible options, but with a non-restrictive clause you can't use "that" as a possible option. For the purpose of simple illustration and to educate, I placed "that" in the restrictive clause construction and "which" in the non-restrictive clause construction. I'm going to trust Oxford and modern conventions on this one, no offense to your reference book... http://oxforddictionaries.com/words/that-or-which