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General Writing and Grammar Help/The now-defunct drug website Silk Road

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Question
Dear Ted:

The following sentence is taken from a HuffPost article titled "A Bite Out Of Bitcoin."

By the way, is it "A HuffPost article" or "AN HuffPost article"?

The founder of a prominent Bitcoin exchange company has been arrested and charged with running an illegal scheme to sell the digital currency to customers trafficking narcotics on the now-defunct drug website Silk Road, prosecutors said Monday.

My question are these:

1) Am I correct in saying that the noun "Silk Road" should be set off with or by (?) commas because it is non-essential to the meaning of the sentence?

2) Is the above sentence correctly written? If not, would you please rephrase it for me and, also, give me some alternatives?

Again, thank you very much for the help.

Paolo

Answer
Dear Paolo:

The following sentence is taken from a HuffPost article titled "A Bite Out Of
Bitcoin."

By the way, is it "A HuffPost article" or "AN HuffPost article"?

*** Use "A."

The founder of a prominent Bitcoin exchange company has been arrested and
charged with running an illegal scheme to sell the digital currency to customers
trafficking narcotics on the now-defunct drug website Silk Road, prosecutors
said Monday.

My question are these:

1) Am I correct in saying that the noun "Silk Road" should be set off with or by
(?) commas because it is non-essential to the meaning of the sentence?

*** No, you are not correct.  If we assume that there is more than one "now-defunct drug website," the name "Silk Road" IS essential, to distinguish this site from the others.  However, you would be correct if, in fact, it is the ONLY website that falls into this category.  I doubt that it is.  

It is often difficult to decide whether something is essential or not.  If, in a sentence previous to this one, the author had used the term "Silk Road," then simply referring to it as a "now-defunct drug website" would be sufficient.  From the sentence you have given me, "Silk Road" is mentioned for the first time.

By the way, Paolo, the sentence is very poorly written.  When you have a sentence with so many phrases used to get your meaning stated, you probably should re-write the one sentence into two sentences.  

2) Is the above sentence correctly written? If not, would you please rephrase it
for me and, also, give me some alternatives?

*** YOUR sentence is very clearly written.  In addition to "with" or "by," you can also use "within commas."

Ted

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Ted Nesbitt

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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.

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

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