I am wondering if the two sentences I made are correct grammatically.

  1. The girl pleased with the result is my sister.

  2. The girl, pleased with the result, is my sister.

Which one is correct and why?


Both are correct, but there is a slight difference:

The first sentence contains a restrictive clause while the second one contains a non-restrictive one.

In the first sentence, you use please with the result as a postmodifier for the girl to further specify that girl. It gives additional information about that girl in order for the hearer to determine which girl is being talked about. It is the girl who is please with the result, not the other girl.

In the second one, the clause pleased with the result is separated by comma's which makes it non-restrictive. The hearer already knows who the girl is (because there only is one girl or because it has already been pointed out in the context who this girl is). The clause between comma's simply gives extra information about the girl rather than further determining it.

So, both sentences are correct, but there is a slight difference in meaning.

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  • How do the commas make that second clause non-restrictive? Are they merely signals to the reader about how the clause should be interpreted? Is there any difference in the way those two sentences would be spoken? I cannot say #2 naturally, but perhaps that's just a shortcoming of my idiolect. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Jul 30 '15 at 15:38
  • Have a look at this: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Non-restrictive_clause – Vlammuh Jul 30 '15 at 15:40
  • I'm asking specifically with regard to the examples here, where the clause is parenthetic. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Jul 30 '15 at 15:52
  • I think the same difference applies to these examples. The second one would require a pause between girl and pleased when speaking. – Vlammuh Jul 30 '15 at 15:55
  • Wow, that Wikipedia article needs a lot of work. It's not "too technical", it's just poorly written. Ungrammatical, even. Also, wrong. Maybe start here: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/… – snailplane Jul 31 '15 at 3:53
  1. The girl pleased with the results is my sister.

  2. The girl, pleased with the results, is my sister.

The sentence #1 is correct, whereas the other isn't correct.

The sentence needs a defining relative clause to provide essential information to identify the girl who is being referred to. This clause isn't surrounded by commas. The first sentence is correct as it has the clause needed.

The second sentence has a non-defining relative clause, surrounded by commas, to give extra information. You use this clause when the person or thing referred to is already identified. For examples:

Sara, pleased with the results, is my sister.

This girl, pleased with the results, is my sister.

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