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I've already learned, in this beneficial forum, that commas are required to list more than two units with the same function. I would like to ask a question with regards to that.

1- The opportunity to be rich that I always cared about that generally comes to lucky people has never come to me.

2- The opportunity to be rich, that I always cared about, that generally comes to lucky people has never come to me.

Which one is correct? First of all, I would like to emphasize that the clauses "that I always cared about" and "that generally comes to lucky people" are defining relative clauses and their commas in the second sentence is not about their type, but the comma use for listing.

I think the second one is correct because all of "to be rich", "that I always cared about" and "that generally comes to lucky people" have the same function, defining "the opportunity", so I believe that we need to list them with commas even though there are defining relative clauses there.

2 Answers 2

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The "base" sentence is:

The opportunity to be rich has never come to me.

Both your additional phases are parenthetical clauses, and as such require a comma both at their beginning and at their end, for a total of four commas. Because they are right next to each other you can combine two of the commas for a total of three.

I would also use "which" instead of "that."

The opportunity to be rich, which I always cared about, which generally comes to lucky people, has never come to me.

This double parenthetical is a rather poetic or flowery way of writing, and I wouldn't expect to see it in natural conversation or scientific paper. But in a memoir it would not be out of place.

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  • Because we need more than two "that" relative clauses in order to treat commas as listing commas, right? "The opportunity to be rich that I always cared about, that generally comes to lucky people, that many people miss has never come to me." I don't use "add" and "which" and it is hard to read. However, uses of comma and its grammatical accuracy are good, I think. Do you agree? The modified phrase is "The opportunity to be rich" and all of "that relative clauses" modify it while they have commas.
    – Jawel7
    Commented May 7, 2021 at 12:07
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1- The opportunity to be rich that I always cared about that generally comes to lucky people has never come to me. 2- The opportunity to be rich, that I always cared about, that generally comes to lucky people has never come to me.

To make opportunity the noun to be modified, as you have clarified, and treat the commas as listing commas, we could say

The opportunity that is to be rich, I always cared about, [and] generally comes to lucky people has never come to me.

I have consolidated that to the front and added a conjunction before the last item of the list. Those in bold are parallel.

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  • Because we need more than two "that" relative clauses in order to treat commas as listing commas, right? "The opportunity to be rich that I always cared about, that generally comes to lucky people, that many people miss has never come to me." I don't use "add" and "which" and it is hard to read. However, uses of comma and its grammatical accuracy are good, I think. Do you agree? The modified phrase is "The opportunity to be rich" and all of "that relative clauses" modify it while they have commas.
    – Jawel7
    Commented May 7, 2021 at 12:06

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