1. izzygoer
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    izzygoer New Member

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    confused about parenthetical elements

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by izzygoer, Nov 26, 2009.

    I read that commas should be used before parenthetical elements. I do not understand if a sentence contains the word “when” followed by “and” which part of the sentence is a parenthetical element?



    1)
    However, continuing my sports activities, when my injuries had healed and my health was strong enough to do so, has been the most important goal of my life.


    2)
    However, continuing my sports activities when my injuries had healed, and my health was strong enough to do so, has been the most important goal of my life.


    3)
    However, continuing my sports activities when my injuries had healed and my health was strong enough to do so, has been the most important goal of my life.


    similar example


    4)
    The days in my job, when I excelled and made a difference in the lives of those who depended on me, provided inspiration during a difficult period of my life.


    5)
    The days in my job when I excelled, and made a difference in the lives of those who depended on me, provided inspiration during a difficult period of my life.


    6)
    The days in my job when I excelled and made a difference in the lives of those who depended on me, provided inspiration during a difficult period of my life.



    which of these 6 is the correct way to use commas in such sentences??


    your help is greatly appreciated thank you
     
  2. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    in first example, #1 is correct...

    in second, it's #4...

    however, neither one really needs those commas and can be done without them... but 'days in my job' is awkward, makes little sense...
     
  3. tbeverley
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    tbeverley Senior Member

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    "When" starts an adverbial phrase. "And" is a coordinating conjunction that links two related clauses (a sentence is a main clause.)

    Think of parenthetical comments as in parenthesis. He said (and he said it loudly) that he was drunk. Or: He said, and he said it loudly, that he was drunk.

    They're comments that make a remark upon something in the main clause, but are not neccessary to the main clause, as in an explanation of something within the main clause.

    In this sentence, the use of the parenthetical is too awkward. I'd do it one of these ways:

    Make it a part of the main clause:

    "Continuing my sports activities after my injuries had healed and my health was strong enough to do so has been the most important goal of my life."

    Make it an adverbial phrase:

    "After my injuries healed and my health became strong enough, continuing my sports activities has become the most important goal of my life."

    Another way (and this is still using it as an adverbial phrase):

    However, after my injuries had healed and my health was strong enough to do so, continuing my sports activities became the most important goal of my life.

    There are a number of ways to write it, but mainly by making it either a part of the main clause or making it an adverbial phrase. It is, however, awkward as a parenthetical. This is because of the word "when," which makes it an adverbial phrase and makes it logically used as an adverbial phrase.


    Look at it in terms of it's sentence parts:

    Main Clause: "The days in my job provided inspiration."
    Adverbial Phrase: "When I excelled and made a difference in the lives of those who depended on me."
    Non-Finite Clause: "During a difficult period of my life...."

    Best way:

    "During a difficult period of my life, my job provided inspiration, because I excelled and made a difference in the lives of those who depended on me."

    "During" is an -ing verb, a gerund as it's called, and an -ing verb often starts a clause called a non-finite clause, differentiated from an infinitive, such as "to do," and instead being "doing." A non-finite clause such as "During a difficult period of my life" is usually used at the beginning or end of a sentence.

    Basically, your sentences just need to be broken down into their parts and arranged according to those parts, then you'd see more clearly where the sentence parts belong. A good grammar book will list all the parts of speech, and once you know them, it's simple to arrange sentences.
     
  4. architectus
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    architectus Banned

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    The middle section here is not a parenthetical. Try reading the sentence without it.

    The days in my job provided inspiration during a difficult period of my life. << doesn't make much sense. The middle part is necessary information. Nonetheless, the commas help the sentence read better because it is so long, but if it were short, the commas would not be needed, IMO.

    The days in my job when I worked the phones were most exciting.

    I agree with tbeverly about rewriting the sentences, though.

    Try to get to the subject as soon as possible, and if you must interrupt the subject and its verb, do so briefly.
     

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