Ask anybody who’s ever written an essay how she or he feels about commas and also you’re seemingly to obtain a groan for a solution.
Regardless of the comma hate, this piece of punctuation has just a few primary guidelines.
A part of the issue is that writers have a tendency to hyper-focus on how commas work together with particular phrases.
If, as an alternative, you check out the perform of that phrase within the context of the sentence containing it, it is possible for you to to rapidly and painlessly reply any comma query.
Moreover, there’s typically a simple shortcut you should use to work out commas before some phrases. “Who,” which is a relative pronoun, is one such phrase.
Let’s check out this phrase and decide when it requires a comma.
Table of Contents
Do you ever want a comma before “who”?
Who’s a relative pronoun, meaning that it’s used most frequently to make clear one thing earlier within the sentence or to present the “relation” of the clause that follows it.
Whether or not you want a comma will depend upon whether or not the clause after “who” is restrictive or whether or not it accommodates further info that isn’t important to the sentence.
When you’ve got a restrictive clause, which is a clause that modifications the meaning of your sentence when it’s eliminated, you shouldn’t put a comma before “who.”
However, if the clause after “who” solely supplies some further, pointless info it’s best to add a comma.
Clauses and restrictive clauses
Before we study the query of comma utilization and the phrase “who,” it’s vital to perceive slightly bit extra about the way in which sentences are put collectively.
Put merely, a clause is the core constructing block of a sentence. At a minimal, it wants to embody a verb; generally, it additionally features a topic and an object, as properly.
To be grammatical, a sentence wants to embody one essential clause. Most sentences additionally embody subordinate clauses that add additional details about the primary clause, or change our understanding of it in a roundabout way.
You may normally inform whether or not you’re wanting on the essential or subordinate clause of a sentence by checking to see which accommodates an important info.
Key to understanding when to use a comma before “who” is figuring out that some subordinate clauses might be restrictive.
Because of this they provide the reader important details about the primary clause and that they can’t be eliminated with out altering the sentence’s meaning.
Comma guidelines and restrictive “who”
“Who” is often used at first of a clause that gives important details about the subject of a sentence. As famous above, this implies you’re coping with a restrictive clause.
As soon as you recognize your relative clause is restrictive, the query of whether or not to use a comma before “who” is a simple one.
As a result of restrictive clauses present important info, it’s best to by no means add a comma in entrance of them.
That implies that in case you can’t take the clause starting with “who” out of your sentence with out altering its meaning, you shouldn’t add a comma before it.
“Lakshmi most well-liked the James Bond actor who spoke with an English accent.”co
“Of the three contestants, the one who took the most important dangers was essentially the most attention-grabbing.”
In each of those examples, our “who” clause tells us key details about the subject of the sentence. Which means we must always not add a comma.
To test, let’s take away the clause from the primary sentence: “Lakshmi most well-liked the James Bond actor.”
As you may see, the meaning of this sentence has now been utterly modified, virtually to the purpose the place the sentence is meaningless.
Within the authentic, the clause “who spoke with an English accent” let the reader know which of the assorted James Bond actors she most well-liked. With the clause eliminated, now we have no manner of figuring out which actor she most well-liked, or what she most well-liked him over.
Utilizing a comma before “who” for added info
If “who” shouldn’t be appearing as a restrictive clause, the most definitely use of it in a sentence is to present further info.
As a result of clauses that aren’t restrictive are principally non-compulsory, commas are used to present a visible cue to the reader that she or he can skip what follows.
Once more, the best manner to inform the distinction is to try to take away the clause with “who” out of your sentence. Should you discover that every thing nonetheless is smart, you’re coping with a non-essential clause and may place a comma before “who.”
Have in mind as properly that in case your non-essential clause seems in the midst of a sentence relatively than on the finish, you’ll need to observe the clause with a comma in addition to put a comma at its begin.
“After looking out all morning I discovered the cat, who was sitting on the mattress licking himself as although nothing was flawed.”
“Judy, who hated musicals, declined to accompany me to the screening of Les Misérables.”
In each of those sentences, the relative clauses starting with “who” present further details about the subject of the sentence.
Within the first, the relative clause describes what the cat was doing when the speaker discovered him. Within the second, it provides us the seemingly purpose that Judy didn’t need to go and see a musical.
Though figuring out these details add taste to the sentence, they don’t change the fundamental meaning when eliminated.
Which means we’d like to set them off with a comma before “who,” or, within the case of the second instance, that we’d like to encompass the relative clause with commas.
Grammar puzzler: who or whom?
As if commas aren’t complicated sufficient, the phrase “who” brings with it an additional probability for slip-ups. In a proper setting, you may typically see its old school cousin, “whom.”
Some individuals mistakenly assume that “who” ought to at all times be “whom” when it seems in direction of the tip of a sentence, however this can be a misunderstanding.
Overcorrection to “whom” is a standard drawback in formal writing, so how do you inform which of those two phrases to use?
The secret’s to understand that you just solely use “whom” as the thing of a verb. With that truth, every thing falls into place.
“I gave the automobile to the valet, who parked it for me.”
“To whom did you give the automobile?”
Within the first instance, the phrase “who” is definitely the topic of the clause “who parked it for me.” Because of this despite the fact that it seems in direction of the tip of a sentence you shouldn’t use “whom.”
Within the second, despite the fact that “whom” is the sentence’s second phrase, it’s technically the oblique object of the verb “give.” Which means you want “whom” as an alternative of “who.”
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