Restrictive and Nonrestrictive Clauses Exercise (411)

A nonrestrictive clause is a subordinate clause that may be left out of a sentence without significantly altering the meaning expressed by the main clause. In a restrictive clause, on the other hand, the information is related to a word in the main clause. Nonrestrictive clauses are set off by commas; restrictive clauses are not. Add commas where needed in the following sentences.

Answers and Explanations

1.
Original: ISIL is an alternate name for the Islamic State group whose fighters swept across much of Iraq this summer.
Correct : ISIL is an alternate name for the Islamic State group, whose fighters swept across much of Iraq this summer.

"Whose" begins a subordinate clause modifying the main clause, so a comma is required before it. Omitting the comma erroneously implies that two or more Islamic State groups exist, including one whose fighters swept across much of Iraq this summer.

2.
Original: One of the first shippers transported bananas from Jamaica founding the Boston Fruit Company which later became the United Fruit Company.
Correct : One of the first shippers transported bananas from Jamaica, founding the Boston Fruit Company, which later became the United Fruit Company.

"Which later became the United Fruit Company" modifies "the Boston Fruit Company," so a comma is necessary before "which"; without it, the confusing implication is that one of the multiple firms known as the Boston Fruit Company later changed its name.

3.
Original: The massive fire which exploded into one of the year’s biggest wildfires claimed its first casualties.
Correct : The massive fire, which exploded into one of the year’s biggest wildfires, claimed its first casualties.

The phrase "which exploded into one of the year’s biggest wildfires" modifies the sentence "The massive fire claimed its first casualties." Because it is not essential to the sentence, it must be bracketed by punctuation.

4.
Original: The department came under fire for its response to the July 6, 2013 Asiana Airlines crash which resulted in three deaths.
Correct : The department came under fire for its response to the July 6, 2013, Asiana Airlines crash, which resulted in three deaths.

The omission of a comma after "crash" creates the mistaken impression that of two or more crashes involving Asiana Airlines aircraft occurring on that date, one resulted in three deaths. The comma’s insertion clarifies that only one crash, which resulted in three deaths, occurred.

5.
Original: Construction crews work on the train station which is expected to open in 2015.
Correct : Construction crews work on the train station, which is expected to open in 2015.

"The train station that is expected . . ." incorrectly suggests that more than one train station is under discussion and that the one in question is expected to open in 2015, but this sentence refers simply to the projected opening date of a single train station.

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