5

It is a serious, and sometimes fatal, disease that may become epidemic in crowded, unsanitary living conditions.

I'm trying to find the name of grammar structure (a very technological term, not just something like "parenthetical phrase to add additional information", as I seek to find every information about it) of "and sometimes fatal", a parenthetical phrase and what seems to be a coordinative adjective.

I just do not understand how it is grammatical to wrap that conjunction and adjective in commas like that. Isn't comma supposed to come before the conjunction only when a new independent clause is beginning?

  • It is perfectly legitimate to use commas around a parenthetical phrase, and the phrase in question is, regardless of the other roles it may fill and characterizations it may carry, a parenthetical. – Hot Licks Jan 13 '16 at 2:15
  • It should be noted that some authors would omit the commas. There are differing opinions on the use of commas in such situations, and there is also a slightly different "shade" of meaning conveyed by the presence or absence of the commas. – Hot Licks Jan 13 '16 at 4:47
3

It is called a "parenthetical phrase." While you state that is not the name you are looking for, that is the grammatical term for it. More specifically, and within the subset of parenthetical phrases, it is called an "aside." Basically, you are more right than you imagined, more on the right path than you seem to have thought.

  • That website said that aside conveys an apologetic attitude. – cityofunited Jan 13 '16 at 22:37
  • It says "often," not "always," not even "mostly." ("...often denoting an ingratiating or apologetic attitude) These are not definitive of an aside, just a common examples of one. – Benjamin Harman Jan 14 '16 at 8:06
1

Would you be happy with: '... a serious (and sometimes fatal) disease ...'? The comma is actually a tiny parenthesis. Since they are represented in speech by a pause, '(' and ')' sound the same (and aren't apparent at the beginning or end of a sentence).

  • Hm. But what licences the use of commas, and, in your case, parenthesis? According to you, it is just supposed to be the representation of the pause in a speech, and those, in many occasions, are considered ungrammatical in written texts. So I do not know if it is grammatical or not. – cityofunited Jan 13 '16 at 0:41
  • @cityofunited - You misunderstand what "written texts" means. – Hot Licks Jan 13 '16 at 2:16
  • @HotLicks ????? – cityofunited Jan 13 '16 at 22:36
  • @cityofunited - All writing (outside of things like tables and bulleted lists) is effectively transcribed speech. The semantically significant pauses and tone patterns of speech are represented (somewhat poorly) in written text using punctuation. What is grammatical in speech is grammatical in written text. – Hot Licks Jan 13 '16 at 22:46
  • Oh... I was referring to pauses made not based on a written speech accidentally or intentionally. But thanks for the input. – cityofunited Jan 13 '16 at 23:05
0

On the grammatical level, you could call it a "coordinate/adjective-modifying adjectival phrase," and on the functional level, you could say that it places scalar focus on the head adjective.

  • Why is the phrase after and set off with and? – cityofunited Jan 13 '16 at 0:55
  • Also, there is NO technical term for it, right? – cityofunited Jan 13 '16 at 1:01
  • @cityofunited most words in English can be coordinated with "and". English is said to be "head-initial," meaning that the modifying portion of a phrase tends to come after. I have provided you with a technical term. you can probably find others in the literature. consider reading further in Huddleston&Pullum – jlovegren Jan 13 '16 at 1:44

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