Twit-Tip: Restrictive vs Non-restrictive Clauses
June 12, 2011 Leave a comment
Who wants to talk about restrictive vs. non-restrictive clauses? Are they even important, you ask…of course they are!
In simple terms, restrictive clauses are imperative to the meaning of the sentence or the subject.
Non-restrictive clauses add information, but they do not limit or restrict the meaning of the sentence or subject.
Now, how can we use that information as we write? Have you ever wondered whether to use ‘that’ or ‘which’? What about commas around these clauses? How do those work?
Just remember that ‘that’ marks RESTRICITVE CLAUSES, and the word ‘which’ marks NON-RESTRICTIVE CLAUSES. Restrictive = no comma. Non-restrictive = comma. So, when a clause is introduced with the word ‘that’, don’t use a comma. When it is introduced with the word ‘which’, use a comma!
Okay, that’s a lot of jumble. Let’s break it down with some examples, shall we?
RESTRICTIVE: I went to the store that had strawberry ice-cream. <– restrictive/that/no comma because s/he went to the store because of the specific ice-cream. The fact that the store had strawberry ice-cream was imperative to the meaning of the sentence.
NON-RESTRICTIVE: I went to the store, which had strawberry ice-cream. <–non-restrictive/which/comma because even if the store did not have ice-cream, s/he still went to the store. Think of the store having the ice-cream was just an added bonus. It was not imperative to the meaning of the sentence.
A way to remember the comma rule surrounding these clauses – if it’s imperative to the sentence (restrictive) you don’t want to block it off with a comma to cut flow. But if it’s not imperative (non-restrictive), acting as extra information, then think of ‘tagging it on’ to the sentence with a comma.
Even if that didn’t really make sense, you can always help your beta out by remembering: THAT = NO COMMA. WHICH = COMMA.
Questions, comments, concerns?
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