1
  1. The man, from the country, is just one of my close friends.

  2. The man from the country is just one of my close friends.

I'm curious to know whether there are any subtle differences in meaning or in use. I suspect number 2 could be used when I want to clarify who's the man I'm referring to among the men we've already known or talked about, but if it wouldn't be confusing who's the man I'm indicating, then, I think I don't need to add commas. I mean if there was the only man who we have just talked about, there's no need to restrict the information of the man by adding "from the country" without commas, but I'm not sure whether my understanding is getting to the point, and could you please bring out or make up some sentences in which preposition phrases starting with "of" can be used as examples for teaching this topic?

2

1.The man, from the country, is just one of my close friends.

2.The man from the country is just one of my close friends.

They are both grammatically possible.

In 1. the PP "from the country" is a supplement, not a modifier of "man". But it doesn't make much sense. Why would you want to make the PP non-defining?

In 2. the PP does modify "man" and makes much more sense. You clearly have several close friends and the man from the country is just one of them.

  • Then, what is "from the country" modifying in number 1? And why don't we think of "from the country" as the shortened form of "being from the country" or "who is from the country" in number 1? – SinK Apr 5 at 6:45
  • And what about this sentence? The girl, in front of the door, is my younger sister Is this sentence also incorrect with commas? – SinK Apr 5 at 6:52
  • Are there not any sentences in which a prepositional phrase can modify a noun as in number 1? If possible, could you bring up some sentences? – SinK Apr 5 at 7:13
  • @SIS Supplements are not modifiers, so the PP in 1. doesn't modify anything. It's not part of the NP. But the PP in 2. is a modifier of the noun "man". – BillJ Apr 5 at 7:15
  • @SIS Your "girl" example is grammatically possible, but odd. Why would you want to make a defining phrase a supplement? That makes no sense. Ditch the commas. – BillJ Apr 5 at 7:20
1

The difference is not subtle, number 1 is incorrect. You must not separate "from the country" from "the man" as they are related to each other, none of them being a clause in itself (having a verb).

Therefore, 2. is correct.

You can make 1. correct like this:

  1. The man, who is from the country, is just one of my close friends.

or (suggested by @user45266; with slightly different meaning):

  1. The man, being from the country, is just one of my close friends.
  • One could replace "who is" with "being" as well (largely depending on context). – user45266 Apr 5 at 6:05
  • Then, what is "from the country" modifying in number 1? And why don't we think of "from the country" as the shortened form of "being from the country" or "who is from the country" in number 1? – SinK Apr 5 at 6:47
  • And what about this sentence? The girl, in front of the door, is my younger sister Is this sentence also incorrect with commas? – SinK Apr 5 at 6:52
  • The new sentence (with the girl) also sounds incorrect, with the same explanation. – virolino Apr 5 at 6:59
  • Words and clauses cannot be treated in the same way in a sentence. That is why using or not using a verb changes the structure and the rules (slightly). – virolino Apr 5 at 7:01

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