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Thursday, March 4, 2010

Criminal Sentence 353: Unheroic Punctuation

Courtesy of CNN yesterday afternoon:

"Hero pilot, Capt. Chesley 'Sully' Sullenberger retires"

Just one little comma missing. When you use what's called an appositive, you need to surround it with commas, as here:

"The author of Oliver Twist, Charles Dickens, created the character of Mr. Bumble."

"Charles Dickens" is the appositive. It clarifies "The author of OT."

In CS 353, we need a comma after "Sullenberger" because "Capt. Chesley 'Sully' Sullenberger" is an appositive.


Caerol said...

I'm just wondering, is it possible to use an appositive at the beginning of a sentence?

If so can words in the second example, before Charles Dickens, serve as an appositive only via a comma?

The Sentence Sleuth said...

You could rearrange like this:

"Charles Dickens, the author of Oliver Twist, created the character of Mr. Bumble."

Now the appositive is "the author of Oliver Twist."

Anonymous said...

It makes no sense to put "Charles Dickens" in apposition and not "Mr. Bumble." Saying "the character of" is egregious in itself.