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Section 12.4.1

Restrictive and Nonrestrictive Modifiers and Clauses

Modifiers and clausesthat follow the words or phrases they modify areeither restrictive or nonrestrictive. Restrictive modifiers and clauses areessential to the meaning of the sentence; without them, the meaning would bedifferent. Nonrestrictive modifiers supply additional information; without them,although there would be less information, the basic meaning would be the same.


Not all the galaxy's stars are confined to the galactic plane. There area few stars that occur far above or below the disk.

--"Astronomy," Compton's Encyclopedia


S. C. Johnson Corporation, which makes Johnson Wax andRaid, the antiroach product, breeds 80,000 roachesa week and plays host to up to a million roaches at any one time.

--"Roach Wars," Scientific American

The distinction between restrictive and nonrestrictive modifiers is veryimportant for punctuation: only nonrestrictivemodifiers are separated by commas from the noun phrases they modify. See Nonrestrictive Modifiers.

The distinction between restrictive and nonrestrictive modifiers is alsoimportant when choosing between the relativepronouns that and which: in American English, generally use thatwith restrictive relative clauses; use whichwith nonrestrictive relative clauses.

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## Restrictive and Nonrestrictive Modifiers ##
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