1

With the following sentence:

We will take you from here to the top of that mountain, 10,000 feet up.

Is "10,000 feet up" considered a non-essential dependent clause? Regardless, is the comma considered a grammatical error?

  • We will take you from here to the top of that mountain, 10,000 feet up. seems fine to me, and more to the point, the sentence scans oddly without a comma. – Cargill Dec 14 '15 at 5:13
  • If the sentence read "We will take you from here to the top the mountain that is 10,000 feet up," you can reasonably infer that there is another mountain that is not 10,000 feet high that the guides will not take you to the top of. – deadrat Dec 14 '15 at 5:23
2

Punctuation is a matter of style, so you should be guided by your manual of style.

First of all, 10,000 feet up is not a clause which requires a verb in it. It is rather an NP (noun phrase).

The comma is not a grammatical error considering 10,000 feet up could be considered as an appositive which is "of, relating to, or standing in grammatical apposition":

grammar: an arrangement of words in which a noun or noun phrase is followed by another noun or noun phrase that refers to the same thing.

[Merriam-Webster]

In your sentence, the top of that mountain is the same thing as 10,000 feet up, and 10,000 feet up is a non-essential part of the sentence. Therefore, a comma is required there to separate the two noun phrases.

  • Nice phrasing in the introductory sentence. Upvote. – deadrat Dec 14 '15 at 5:21
  • @deadrat Did you notice it as it sounds so much familiar to you? :-) – user140086 Dec 14 '15 at 5:33
  • It was so clear! And so concise! Yet it retained just that hint of condescension. And then I realized why I liked it so much. (You should probably insert an appropriate emoticon here. I'm too old to use those.) It did make me smile. – deadrat Dec 14 '15 at 5:46
  • No; '10 000 feet up' is not a restatement of 'the top of that mountain' and so is not in apposition to it. It could be argued that 'to the top of that mountain' and '10 000 feet up' are sequenced adverbials (so a gain in elevation of 10 000 feet). However, I'd say that this may well be a conversational version of 'We will take you from here to the top of that mountain, which is 10,000 feet high.' Whiz-deletion is then involved. – Edwin Ashworth Dec 14 '15 at 7:30
  • @EdwinAshworth You are confused with adverbial usage. If he said "I would take you (to) X feet up, it is an adverbial usage. X feet up in the sentence is not an adverbial usage as it is separated from the main sentence. No distinction between apposition and so called "Whiz deletion", "My sister, Alice Smith, likes X". It is same as "My sister, who is Alice Smith/whose name is Alice Smith, likes X". "the top of the mountain, whose height is X feet up". X feet up is a non-essential part of the sentence and that's why it is in apposition where a comma is used to separate the two noun phrases. – user140086 Dec 14 '15 at 8:36
2

You have that in that mountain, so 10,000 feet up cannot be considered essential. So your sentence is a shortened form of:

We will take you from here to the top of that mountain, which is 10,000 feet up.

Another option is that you are repeating the goal

  • We will take you from here to the top of that mountain.

  • We will take you from here 10,000 feet up.

the comma is then acting like or:

We will take you from here to the top of that mountain or 10,000 feet up.

Either way a comma comes naturally.

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