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General Writing and Grammar Help/RE: He begins fantasizing about.....

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Question
Dear Ted:

I'm sorry to get back to you with the same subject but I still need your help.

In particular, I don't understand this part of your answer:

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."

My question is the following:

1) In the first paragraph, what do you mean by "Do not use the comma or the name"? I thought that when we provide essential information, no comma(s) are needed. Otherwise, when we give non-essential information, we need comma(s). What do you think?

Thank you,

Paolo

Answer
Dear Paolo:

1) In the first paragraph, what do you mean by "Do not use the comma or the name"? I thought that when we provide essential information, no comma(s) are needed. Otherwise, when we give non-essential information, we need comma(s). What do you think?

I said that you should not use the comma and the name, because the name is just additional information.  It is NOT necessary.  Her name is NOT essential.

Barack Obama, the President of the United States, is a Democrat.

The words between the two commas are ADDITIONAL INFORMATION.

The ESSENTIAL I am trying to make is that Obama is a Democrat.

Look closely at the instructions and example at the OWL [Purdue University] web site that I sent you.

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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