1. The country Korea is well known for Kpop.
  2. The country, Korea, is well known for Kpop.
  3. My friend Daniel used to make fun of me.
  4. My friend, Daniel, used to make fun of me.

I wonder which ones are grammatically correct and whether there're differences in meaning due to commas. I think they're all grammatical but there would be differences in use and meaning.

For example, I think 1 seems to be more appropriate to say when people talk about not only Korea, but also other countries. On the other hand, I would say 2 when I'm talking about only Korea because lisnters already know which country I'm referring to, as I'm talking about Korea only.

  • 1
    Who would ever write "The country Korea", with or without a comma? Even though there are, in fact, two countries with 'Korea' in their names. – Michael Harvey Oct 29 '19 at 17:35
  • @Michael Harvey But is there a possible context where commas should be dropped as in the first sentence? – GKK Oct 30 '19 at 4:01
  • I think to non native speakers this is a big issue. +1 – user17814 Oct 30 '19 at 7:09

There is a sense in which, with the commas, you are presenting the noun, twice, in two different ways (whereas, if you just say "the country Korea", you have presented these three words as representing one noun).

It has an effect of providing clarification or perhaps adding something to the noun already stated. Perhaps you had already mentioned Daniel, or Korea, but aren't sure if people will remember what you are referring to. There is a sense in which the sentence would still make sense if you excluded the part within the commas.

You can also use this comma technique to present single things in multiple different ways:

My friend, Daniel, the strangest person I have ever known, used to make fun of me.

  • What about the first sentence? Isn't there any context where commas should be dropped as in the first sentence? – GKK Oct 30 '19 at 4:06
  • Perhaps if you needed to clarify it was a country you were talking about. "Is there any place where Kpop is common?" "The country Korea is well known for Kpop." Perhaps you would say this to someone you thought had limited geographical knowledge, and might not know what Korea is. – Chris Mack Oct 30 '19 at 23:48

my friend, Daniel,

implies that Daniel is a synonym for my friend because you have only one friend – or only one who can possibly fit the context.

my friend Daniel

specifies which friend – or which Daniel – you mean.

Some people would insist that you should never write “my husband Daniel” unless you have two husbands.

  • Can I say "the country Korea" without commas as in the first sentence? – GKK Oct 30 '19 at 7:24
  • Yes, but why would you not say simply “Korea”? – Anton Sherwood Oct 30 '19 at 7:28
  • I just wanted to check whether I understand the way English works, especially on this point. – GKK Oct 30 '19 at 7:34

In some situations, the comma (pause, in speech) will imply that there are other potentially contextually relevant countries / friends of mine, but the speaker wants to single out one in particular (Korea, Daniel).

In other contexts there are no credible alternative countries or friends being "ruled out" in favour of the contextually-relevant one - the speaker is simply indicating that Korea is a country, or that Daniel is a friend. Alternatively, that the relevant country's name is Korea or the relevant friend's name is Daniel. Only context determines which of those two aspects of the country:Korea or friend:Daniel relationship applies.

Formally speaking, the version with commas / pauses is called...

apposition - A relationship between two or more units especially noun phrases, such that the two units are normally grammatically parallel and have the same referent, e.g.

Our longest reigning monarch, Queen Victoria, reigned from 1837 to 1901

But quite where we draw the distinction between Albert married the Queen, Victoria in 1840 (which certainly looks like "apposition" to me) and "adjectival" additional information, such as Victoria married her cousin[,] Albert[,] in 1840 (where those optional commas have no effect on the meaning) is a matter for debate (if indeed the "answer" serves any useful purpose, which I doubt).

  • What do you think of the first sentence? Don't you think the commas should be dropped due to the reason I gave in my question? – GKK Oct 30 '19 at 4:08
  • I edited my question a little bit. and I would like to know whether it can be correct to say "The country Korea" or "the capital Seoul" without commas in order to specify which country or capital I'm referring to when I'm taking about countries and capitals. – GKK Oct 30 '19 at 7:29

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