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Non-Essential Elements

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 housea two-bedroom bungalow near the city, was built in 1948.      --Doug bought his cara silver Toyota Camry, from a dealership in Chicago.
     --Mollymy wife, worked in banking before getting her teaching license.