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She thought of the place she grew up, the beautiful city of Birmingham, as they walked together through the streets of their new hometown.

I'm never sure whether it should be like the above, or like this...

She thought of the place she grew up, the beautiful city of Birmingham as they walked together through the streets of their new hometown.

  • It's the first one. – Ian MacDonald Mar 7 '15 at 14:04
  • It's definitely the first one – user98990 Mar 7 '15 at 14:13
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    Try listening for pauses and changes in prosody when you read it out loud. Commas basically mark a change in the prosody of the spoken word, or a significant change in prosody. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Mar 7 '15 at 14:33
  • Appositions, noun-phrases that refer to an earlier noun, are typically set off by commas because that's how we talk when we use them. Comma signifies syntactic pause. – TRomano Mar 7 '15 at 15:48
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The commas are not there to end or start a clause. The pair of commas set off an "appositive", wherein one Noun Phrase

  • "the place where she grew up"

is restated as another Noun Phrase:

  • "the beautiful city of Birmingham"

So yes, you need both commas, placed exactly as in your first example.

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