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Why do we need comma in the following sentence?

This is Gabriel, who I told you about.

Is it correct without comma?

3

You need a comma to separate/set off the "This is Gabriel" with the non-essential relative clause "who I told you about".

This is non-restrictive because you the information in it is not vital in specifying what something is.

For an essential relative clause, see this:

The children who skateboard in the street are especially noisy in the early evening.

You cannot get rid of the relative clause here because it is essential to defining which specific children, so no commas.

Meanwhile:

This is Gabriel, who I told you about.

You can get rid of the relative clause here because it is not essential to defining what Gabriel is, so commas you go.

Source: http://www.chompchomp.com/terms/relativeclause.htm

  • I wonder if we can say "This is the Gabriel who I told you about" (to indicate that this is a particular Gabriel). – CowperKettle Nov 30 '15 at 19:14
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    Then that would have an essential relative clause do define which Gabriel it is! The OP's sentence seems to introduce a guy named Gabriel, which the OP brings up as a person that he told the listener about beforehand. While your sentence means that "this guy is the correct particular Gabriel that I was talking about". – Nihilist_Frost Nov 30 '15 at 19:19
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It depends if you consider it as a non-defining or defining relative clause.

The latter adds vital information about the noun, so no comma is required.
The former adds extra information.

This is Gabriel, who I told you about, an engineer. (non-defining.)
This is Gabriel who is an engineer. (defining.)

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