Restrictive Phrases Exercise (56)

Each of the following sentences below lacks internal punctuation that clarifies that what follows the object is additional information that applies to that person, place, or thing alone. Insert punctuation and make other revisions as necessary in each sentence.

Answers and Explanations

1.
Original: They continued to run a boardinghouse and took great pride in the accomplishments of their sons who kept in regular contact.
Correct : They continued to run a boardinghouse and took great pride in the accomplishments of their sons, who kept in regular contact.

This sentence implies, because of the lack of internal punctuation, that some of the sons kept in regular contact and one or more others didn’t. But the statement simply provides additional information about all the sons.

2.
Original: She was rushed by medevac helicopter to a trauma center where they saved her life.
Correct : She was rushed by medevac helicopter to a trauma center, where her life was saved.

The lack of internal punctuation implies that the person’s life was saved at one of several trauma centers, but only one such place matters in the context, and the final phrase describes what occurred there. (The revision is a passive construction, but that is preferable to the use of they to refer to the trauma center’s staff, which is not specifically mentioned.)

3.
Original: Smith entered the school building and killed six adults, including the principal who tried to stop him, authorities said.
Correct : Smith entered the school building and killed six adults, including the principal, who tried to stop him, authorities said.

The implication here is that of two or more principals, one tried to stop the perpetrator, but the final phrase explains that the sole principal attempted to do so.

4.
Original: He won his fourth Academy Award for his latest labor of love.
Correct : He won his fourth Academy Award, for his latest labor of love.
Alterna.: He won an Academy Award, his fourth, for his latest labor of love.

Without an appositive comma, the implication is that the subject earned the fourth of four Oscars, all awarded for a single cinematic achievement, but the intent of the sentence is to state that his latest labor of love fourth was the catalyst for his fourth Oscar win. Most simply, that idea can be rendered with the simple insertion of a comma, but that may at first glance suggest a typographical error, so the second revision is better.

5.
Original: The Annex across the street displays similar artwork in a smaller space.
Correct : The Annex, across the street, displays similar artwork in a smaller space.

The lack of a comma after the subject implies that two or more venues called "the Annex" exist, and that the one across the street is a smaller venue that displays similar artwork. But there’s only one Annex -- the one across the street, and its location is correctly set apart as a parenthetical phrase.

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