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Troubleshooting comma problems: essential versus additional information

Here’s a text from the BBC, with the commas removed around relative clauses. I‘ve put these clauses in bold.  Decide where the commas go. If it’s an essential clause, no commas are required. If it’s additional information, we put commas.

An Australian man armed with a budget metal detector has hit the jackpot, finding a 4.6kg rock containing gold worth A$240,000 (£130,000; $160,000).

The man who doesn’t want to be named made the discovery in Victoria’s goldfields which were the heart of Australia’s gold rush in the 1800s.

Darren Kamp who valued and bought the specimen said it is the biggest he’s seen in his 43-year career.

“I was just gobsmacked… It’s a once in a lifetime find,” he told the BBC.

Answer key

In the first example, it is essential to the sentence, so there are no commas.

The others all contain additional information, so there are commas.

An Australian man armed with a budget metal detector has hit the jackpot, finding a 4.6kg rock containing gold worth A$240,000 (£130,000; $160,000).

The man, who doesn’t want to be named, made the discovery in Victoria’s goldfields, which were the heart of Australia’s gold rush in the 1800s.

Darren Kamp, who valued and bought the specimen, said it is the biggest he’s seen in his 43-year career.

“I was just gobsmacked… It’s a once in a lifetime find,” he told the BBC.

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Carol Waites (PhD)
Email:  carolswritingtips@gmail.com

Presentation/editing by Christina O’Shaughnessy (editor)
worldwidewriting.org/

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