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I am trying to fix this and name the appropriate rules.

"Dr. William Brooke O’Shaughnessy supported hemp being used for medicinal purposes during the 1800s he was a rich Irish physician who became recognized for his work in pharmacology his inventions in telegraphy and his experiments with non-traditional therapeutic treatments."

Should it be written like this?

"Dr. William Brooke O’Shaughnessy, supported hemp being used for medicinal purposes during the 1800s, he was a rich Irish physician, who became recognized for his work in pharmacology, his inventions in telegraphy and his experiments with non-traditional therapeutic treatments."

Rules:

1) "Commas often indicate sharply contrasting elements." (avoiding dangling modifiers)

For 1800s, he pharmacology, his

2)"Place commas after introductory elements."

for Dr. William Brooke O’Shaughnessy,

  • I would not only use commas to "fix" this. A full stop would be nice (after 1800s). Also, I can't imagine why you want to put a comma after the good man's name. Would you write "Dr. Jones, worked hard"? – oerkelens Feb 4 '14 at 21:57
  • Your second point is not correct. “Dr. William Brooke O’Shaughnessy” is not an introductory element—it is the subject of the sentence. You should never separate a verb and its subject with a comma. You can change the name to just ‘he’, and then you’d end up with “He, supported hemp”, which I hope you can instinctively see looks quite bizarre. An ‘introductory element’ is when you have something (usually an adverb) that doesn’t really belong to the sentence: ‘however’, ‘still’, ‘nonetheless’, ‘interestingly’, ‘actually’, etc. For example: “Actually, I don’t like him much”, with a comma. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Feb 5 '14 at 0:12
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I think you need at least one more period in addition to commas. You might also want to reduce the number of pronouns. Below is how I would rewrite the text.

Dr. William Brooke O’Shaughnessy supported hemp being used for medicinal purposes during the 1800s. He was a rich Irish physician recognized for his work in pharmacology, inventions in telegraphy, and experiments with non-traditional therapeutic treatments.

  • Would this be considered a series? "He was a rich Irish physician recognized for his work in pharmacology, inventions in telegraphy, and experiments with non-traditional therapeutic treatments." – icelated Feb 4 '14 at 22:17
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    Yes, that is a series. – mawcsco Feb 4 '14 at 22:19
  • I would add a comma after physician. – bib Feb 4 '14 at 22:36
  • Yeah, I could go either way. The way I decided was to imagine the sentence with a period after "pharmacology." In that case, I wouldn't put a comma in, so I left it out of the expanded sentence. It's mostly a matter of style and the choice depends on the audience and writer. – mawcsco Feb 4 '14 at 22:38
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I would say it's better written like this:

"Dr. William Brooke O’Shaughnessy supported hemp being used for medicinal purposes during the 1800s. He was a rich Irish physician who became recognized for his work in pharmacology, inventions in telegraphy, and experiments with non-traditional therapeutic treatments."

The reason I included a period after "1800s" is because it contains a subject and a predicate. The next sentence is still about Dr. William Brooke O'Shaughnessy, but is separate from the previous sentence.

If you want to write it similar to the second one you've written, you could write it like this:

"Dr. William Brooke O’Shaughnessy, who supported hemp being used for medicinal purposes during the 1800s, was a rich Irish physician who became recognized for his work in pharmacology, inventions in telegraphy, and experiments with non-traditional therapeutic treatments."

You are correct with the rules, but I'm not sure you're understanding them entirely. Dr. William Brooke O'Shaughnessy is the subject. The general rule for introductory elements applies if something comes before the subject (other than adjectives). Here is an example: "If Dr. William Brook O'Shaughnessy, who supported hemp being used for medicinal purposes during the 1800s, was a rich Irish physician who became recognized for his work in pharmacology, inventions in telegraphy, and experiments with non-traditional therapeutic treatments, then ..."

Does that make sense. Also, unless you're writing creatively, you want to avoid the use of the same pronoun in a list when it refers to the same person. The subject has already been established, so there is no confusion that what's included in the list is referring to him. It's unnecessary and is similar to including the word "and" after every item in a list.

I hope that helped.

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