- Interrupting Phrase
- Exercise in Punctuating Nonrestrictive Elements
- Guidelines for Using Commas Effectively
- How to Build Sentences with Appositives
- Restrictive and Nonrestrictive Adjective Clauses
- Subordinate Clause
Examples and Observations:
- "Human beings, who are almost unique in having the ability to learn from the experience of others, are also remarkable for their apparent disinclination to do so."
(Douglas Adams, Last Chance to See, 1990)
- "Growth, in some curious way, I suspect, depends on being always in motion just a little bit, one way or another."
- "The book was a life of Brahms, which had been standing askew on one of the shelves here and which the dampness had left permanently misshapen."
(David Markson, Wittgenstein's Mistress, 1988)
- "Samsø, which is roughly the size of Nantucket, sits in what’s known as the Kattegat, an arm of the North Sea. The island is bulgy in the south and narrows to a bladelike point in the north, so that on a map it looks a bit like a woman’s torso and a bit like a meat cleaver."
(Elizabeth Kolbert, "The Island in the Wind," The New Yorker, July 7, 2008)
- Not all participial phrases are restrictive. Sometimes the referent of the noun is already identified, so a modifier isn't necessary. In such cases, the purpose of the modifier is simply to comment on or to add information about the noun, not to define it. Such modifiers are called nonrestrictive modifiers:
My mother, sitting by the window, is talking to herself.In this sentence the noun phrase my mother is already specific; it has only one possible referent. Sitting by the window simply adds a detail of information."
(Martha Kolln, Rhetorical Grammar: Grammatical Choices, Rhetorical Effects, 3rd ed., Allyn and Bacon, 1999)
- "Health sciences, computer science, engineering and business--fields that have tended to attract a somewhat greater proportion of moderates and conservatives--have grown in importance and size compared with the more liberal social sciences and humanities, where many of the bitterest fights over curriculum and theory occurred."
(Patricia Cohen, "The ’60s Begin to Fade as Liberal Professors Retire," The New York Times, July 4, 2008)
Also Known As: non-defining, supplementary, nonlimiting, nonessential modifier