another man whose name was Jack

This is the place to post questions and discussions on usage and style. The members of the Wordwizard Clubhouse will also often be able to help you to formulate that difficult letter.
Post Reply

another man whose name was Jack

Post by navi » Sun Mar 17, 2019 6:42 pm

1) We thought Tom had stolen the jewel, but we found out that it had been stolen by another man whose name was Jack Smith.

2) We thought Tom had stolen the jewel, but we found out that it had been stolen by another man, whose name was Jack Smith.

3) We thought Tom had stolen the jewel, but we found out that it had been stolen by another man called Jack Smith.


4) We thought Tom had stolen the jewel, but we found out that it had been stolen by another man, called Jack Smith.

Are the commas necessary, incorrect, or correct but unnecessary?

Gratefully,
Navi
ACCESS_POST_ACTIONS

Re: another man whose name was Jack

Post by Phil White » Sun Mar 17, 2019 7:53 pm

In sentences 1 and 2, the normal rules for punctuating defining/non-defining relative clauses apply. This means that sentence 1 is nonsense (Tom's name is also Jack Smith).

The same applies in sentences 3 and 4, although you will rarely see the case of defining/non-defining ellipted relative clauses discussed anywhere. Hence, sentence 3 is nonsense.

That said, I would guess that a large proportion of native speakers do not know the punctuation conventions for defining/non-defining relative clauses, but many would punctuate correctly intuitively, because there is a distinct pause in speech (and hence a comma) with a non-defining relative clause. You will certainly see it done wrongly by native speakers, though.

If I am explaining this to anyone, I prefer to avoid the "defining/non-defining" distinction. I think it is simpler to say that if you can put the relative clause in brackets, you need a comma before and after the relative clause (unless the sentence ends with the relative clause, of course, in which case you need a comma and a full stop!).
ACCESS_POST_ACTIONS
Signature: Phil White
Non sum felix lepus

Re: another man whose name was Jack

Post by tony h » Mon Mar 18, 2019 11:16 am

Phil White , at risk of seeming an eejit, I thought 2 and 4 were the nonsense ones. Or (in 4) the jewel was called Jack Smith. Maybe not quite as imaginative as La Peregrina Pearl, but a name none the less.
ACCESS_POST_ACTIONS
Signature: tony

I'm puzzled therefore I think.

Re: another man whose name was Jack

Post by Phil White » Mon Mar 18, 2019 11:49 am

Try speaking them out loud with a pause at that comma (or writing them with brackets around "whose name was Jack Smith), and comparing them with the versions without the commas or brackets. In the intended meaning, "whose name was Jack Smith" and "called Jack Smith" are parenthetical.
ACCESS_POST_ACTIONS
Signature: Phil White
Non sum felix lepus

ACCESS_END_OF_TOPIC
Post Reply