Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Return of the Grammarian

Blouse, Tommy. Skirt, Banana Republic. Sandals, Nine West.

A couple of months ago, a fellow amateur grammarian wanted to discuss restrictive and non-restrictive clauses. Since I owe you guys several posts on the topic, I thought I'd start to make up for lost time by partly recycling my email exchanges with the Grammatical Geoffrey.   

Let us examine the following phrases: 
I have a husband, who is a sharp dresser.
I have a husband who is a sharp dresser.

Punctuation is possibly the most overlooked aspect of writing, even though it can make a world of difference. That strategically placed comma gives the first phrase a completely different meaning. I have a husband, who is a sharp dresser means that I am monogamous and my husband happens to be a sharp dresser (lucky me!). In boring terms, it is called a non-restrictive or parenthetic clause and it is used to introduce new information.
I have a husband who is a sharp dresser is a restrictive or non-parenthetic clause and it leaves room for polygamy and a lack of style. The phrase could just as naturally become: I have a husband who is a sharp dresser and another who favors the Canadian tuxedo (the horror). In writing, I've found it helpful to replace who/which with that in restrictive clauses. And that concludes today's lesson!

P.S. The husband in these examples is fictional. Please don't send any belated gravy boats.
P.P.S. Polygamy? Did I just go there? For those who might be offended, I should tell you that I believe in absolute gender equality. If certain men can take multiple wives, then women should be able to do it as well (I just pitched Brother Husbands to TLC). 

18 comments:

Judy C said...

Then there is who and whom. How about she went with my mom and I? I am just about crazy with wanting to correct some things.

Steph B. said...

I love your grammar posts! I tried to explain the who/whom thing to someone the other day and failed horribly. I'm good at knowing the rules but not at explaining them to others.

aaez said...

Ahh I look forward these posts! Keep em coming I need all the help I can get.

Shea said...

Your polygamy tie-in will ensure that I never (or almost never) get my restrictive and non-restrictive clauses confused again! I love it! I also love the pretty yellow and sky blue together in your outfit.

rlutz said...

Visiting you blog is always so educational! Love your yellow top and neutral flats.

Natalie Suarez said...

so cute! i love the little yellow top :)

natalieoffduty.blogspot.com

Tinfoils Tiaras said...

I took a course on punctuation and it was so useful...not that I stick to the rules but still! I love the colour blocking- you look adorable!

Ashley said...

:) You always make me laugh. (belated gravy boats.)

Erin Girard said...

1. I'm sure you cringe at my comma usage. It's kind of pathetic, consider the fact that my mother is an English teacher.

2. The final of the three dresses is kinda fancy schmancy, so I haven't found an appropriate occasion yet! Maybe just plan your one of your upcoming nuptials in LA or Palm Springs to give me an excuse?

Stephanie said...

Haha your post is so interesting, but I like it! Love your outfit, it's so cute!

happy wednesday!

Girl about town.... said...

I'd be lying if I said I'm into grammar, but your outfit is simply stunning! Just beautiful. So classic and chic.

If only more people had your style!

Girl about Town XxX

Melissa said...

Brother husbands - HYSTERICAL!!!

Too many commas make my head hurt. Incorrect use of a semi-colon breaks my heart.

That is all. :)

OH! Except that I think you look stunning in those gorgeous, springy colors!

Come take a look inside A Working Mom's Closet

Debbie Baker Burns said...

I love your grammar posts and your lemon yellow and pale sky blue skirt. The million dollar question is, "Can TLC find a woman who wants several husbands?" I can just imagine all four coming out to glare at me when I bring the car home with a new dent...not that I did anything like that today...cough...cough...

Melissa: Write it in Lipstick said...

Hahaha, Brother Husbands Love it. So I suck with this whole thing. Grammar and I do not see I to eye. Once upon a time I took AP English and studied hard to learn this but it has all faded away. I need more teach me.

Mónica - Mes Voyages à Paris said...

Hi! Nice post, this skirt is amazing! and cool blog! I have just discovered it and I follow you! If you like street style I'm sure you'll like Mes Voyages à Paris!
Kisses!

Debbie Baker Burns said...

I am back commenting again! I recently was given the Sunshine Award for blogging and I'd like to pass it along to you because I am really enjoying reading your blog! Stop by my blog to see today's post. I've given the award to ten of my favorite blogs and yours is on the list. You can also get the rules for passing the award on to ten blogs of your choosing. Debbie

kimmie said...

Yay the grammarian is back!

I love the colors in this outfit! And (oops, it's probably bad to be starting a sentance with And) I hate when people don't place commas in the right place.

One of my worst pet peeves:

I went to the store, yesterday.

Doesn't make any sense at all!

LADY D said...

perfect i love it