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General Writing and Grammar Help/My brother, Charles, is a neurosurgeon.

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Question
Dear Ted:

What do the following sentences imply?

1) My brother, Charles, is a neurosurgeon.

2) My brother Charles is a neurosurgeon.

As always, many, many thanks for your valuable help.

Paolo

Answer
Dear Paolo:

What do the following sentences imply?

1) My brother, Charles, is a neurosurgeon.

By using the commas, you are suggesting that your brother's name is only additional information and is not necessary to the sentence.  It also suggests that you have ONLY ONE brother, so no one should confuse Charles with a brother that you MIGHT have but DO NOT HAVE.

2) My brother Charles is a neurosurgeon.

By NOT using the commas, you are saying that you have more than one brother.  One of your brothers is named Charles and he is a neurosurgeon.  You have at least another brother, but he is not named "Charles" and he is not a neurosurgeon.

Ted

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Ted Nesbitt

Expertise

I am the bibliographic instruction and reference librarian at a public college. Some members of the English department recommend me to their students. I offer assistance in grammar, punctuation, sentence structure, and paragraph development. My master`s thesis concerns William Faulkner`s tragic novels. I formerly taught advanced placement English at two schools in the Philadelphia area.

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I have been one of the highest-ranked volunteers in this category for more than a decade.

Education/Credentials
B. A. and M. A in English; MSIS in Library & Information Sciences; graduate study in philosophy

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