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When I plug the equipment into an electrical source, its green light turns on, but when I push the start button, the microwave does not work. I think there is an electrical problem , which prevents its motor from working properly.

When I wrote "electrical problem", the sentence became meaningful and complete, and the second clause in bold is a detailed description for the electrical problem. Thus, I guess it is non-defining clause and, therefore, comma is required here. A native English teacher disagrees, so what do you think?

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In the example sentence, we have this:

I think there is an electrical problem (independent clause)
, which prevents its motor from working properly.(dependent clause)

The first part stands on its own, while the second part does not.


The question of a comma or not is something separate. Also, at least in the US (although not the UK), if you removed the comma, making what follows restrictive information, then which should become that:

I think there is an electrical problem that prevents its motor from working properly.

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  • I think I wrote a completely wrong question. I recognised this when I read your answer. I edit it.
    – Costa
    Aug 13, 2019 at 17:11
  • I can't speak for what happens in America, but I've never before heard of any rule connecting the punctuation, or lack of it, to the relative pronoun one uses. (Perhaps that's the point you are making.) All I'd say is that in this instance "that" seems slightly more natural than "which". And in a simple and straightforward example like this is, I wouldn't use a comma.
    – WS2
    Jun 12 at 7:12

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