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Question
Dear Ted:

Is the following sentence acceptable in casual/informal English?

The clerk I was speaking to has left the building.

By the way, is the above sentence correctly punctuated or should I write, "The clerk, I was speaking to, has left the building"?

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

Paolo

Answer
Dear Paolo:

Is the following sentence acceptable in casual/informal English?

The clerk I was speaking to has left the building.

*** Yes.  The sentence is casual.

*** Here is the grammatically correct, formal version:  The clerk TO WHOM I was speaking has left the building.

By the way, is the above sentence correctly punctuated or should I write, "The
clerk, I was speaking to, has left the building"?

*** NO, do not enclose the four words in commas.

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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