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Question
Dear Ted:

Which of the following examples is correctly punctuated?

1) John sits in class, bored out of his mind. He begins fantasizing about his sexy, busty bookworm of a classmate Brandi.

2) John sits in class, bored out of his mind. He begins fantasizing about his sexy, busty bookworm of a classmate, Brandi.

In particular, is the comma needed after "classmate" and before "Brandi"?

Thank you,

Paolo

Answer
Dear Paolo:

It's now nearly 5:00 p.m. and I'm just finishing today's questions.  I did take aspirin, used eye drops, and took a two-hour nap!

*****

Which of the following examples is correctly punctuated?

1) John sits in class, bored out of his mind. He begins fantasizing about his sexy, busty bookworm of a classmate Brandi.

2) John sits in class, bored out of his mind. He begins fantasizing about his sexy, busty bookworm of a classmate, Brandi.

In particular, is the comma needed after "classmate" and before "Brandi"?

*** The rule:

Is the name "Brandi" essential to the meaning of the sentence?  Can you omit her name [and the comma] and still get the full meaning of the sentence.  The name/word "Brandi" is called an "appositive."  Whether or not the appositive is necessary for the meaning of the sentence determines whether or not the comma(s) are used.

I am supposing that there is just one girl in John's class that fits the description.  Giving her name is just providing more information, but NOT information that is needed.  Do not use the comma or the name.

However, if there is more than ONE such girl in the class, then you must use the comma and the name because this is an appositive that is needed.  Otherwise, people might think that John is thinking about the sexy, busty bookworm named "Cinderella."


https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/596/1/

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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