I'm trying to understand if I should insert a comma before the where clause in this sentence. Could you please help?

Simon could hear laughter from the garage where a loud drinking game was being played by his brothers.

Can I treat the where clause as nonrestrictive here, since the main clause seems to be "Simon could hear laughter from the garage," along with extra information after "where"? Or is the where clause restrictive because it is supplying important information linked to the laughter in the main clause?

1 Answer 1


A restrictive clause is so- called because it works like an adjective that restricts or limits something in the rest of the sentence.

Say there is a row of ten garages, and there is a loud drinking game going on in one of them. Simon hears laughter, and realises that it comes from the garage where the drinking game is going on. Not from any of the other nine, but from the one with the drinking game. That would be restrictive: it restricts the choice of garages from 10 to 1. Note that the restriction applies to the garages, not the laughter, and this restriction identifies where the laughter comes from.

A much more likely scenario is that Simon and his brothers are at home, and there is only one garage attached to the house. In this case, this clause would not restrict anything, because there is only one garage anyway. The clause simply provides additional information: what is going on in the garage.

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