General Writing and Grammar Help/rule of the appositives?


Dear RJ,

Working on a contract and different readers are putting different information in the blank.  Given the placement of the comma, does the blank modify the attorney by attorney name or does the blank modify the office by office address?

The deed will be prepared in the name of John Doe and delivered to the office of the closing attorney, _________________________________________ or stipulated place of closing with the transaction to be closed no later than 5 pm on January 29, 2016.

1. The blank does not modify anything. I'll be happy to elaborate should you want me to.

2. The sentence is poorly drafted (as you no doubt suspect). The following addresses your concern but should not be taken as a correction of the sentence, which may suffer from one or more errors not addressed here.

3. To consider the blank as representing the place of closing is inconsistent with the structure of the sentence. If that was the intention, the word "at" should have preceded the blank.

4. To consider the blank as representing the attorney is also inconsistent with the structure of the sentence. If that was the intention, the words "at the" (or at least "at") should have preceded "stipulated" in place of "or," optionally followed by "or" and another blank; and a  comma should have followed the (first) blank.

5. In view of the above, I'm sorry to tell you that there is no good resolution of your concern. Whatever you choose could be criticized and be grounds for invalidation of the contract. Sorry.  

General Writing and Grammar Help

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Richard Johnson


I specialize in grammar. I can however answer any question except homework questions--usually the same day--concerning English grammar, usage, or (non-fiction) writing style, on the basis of the American practice. All answers are explained, and I encourage follow-up.


I'm a retired editor and a lifelong student of this subject. My library includes a great many works to which I've referred through the years. I currently rely largely on the sixteenth edition of The Chicago Manual of Style supplemented, where appropriate, by Long, The New College Grammar.

For over 30 years I edited the newsletter of my own organization, which had different names but was last known as

BA, Brooklyn College. Advanced studies in economics and political science.

Awards and Honors
For many years a member of Mensa.

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