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Non-essential--also known as non-restrictive--elements do not limit or restrict the meaning of the nouns or pronouns they modify. In other words, a non-essential element provides information that is not necessary to understand a noun or pronoun. Non-essential elements are set off by commas.
Relative clauses can be non-essential.
--Eduardo, who chooses to sit in the front of every
class, takes careful notes and asks good questions.
The relative clause is non-essential because the
subject, Eduardo, is already clear without it.
--Mayor Chang, whom I met last night at the city council meeting, is an advocate for a new community center.
The relative clause is non-essential because the subject, Mayor Chang, is already clear without it.
--Mu attends Hamline University, which is located north of University Avenue in Saint Paul.
The relative clause is non-essential because the direct object, Hamline University, is already clear without it.
--Goose down sleeping bags, which are light-weight and warm, are best for winter camping.
The relative clause is non-essential because the subject, sleeping bags, is already clearly explained by Goose down.
Appositives are usually non-essential.
--Jason's house, a two-bedroom bungalow near the city, was built in 1948. --Doug bought his car, a silver Toyota Camry, from a dealership in Chicago.
--Molly, my wife, worked in banking before getting her teaching license.