1

I have four ways to write my sentence:

(comma separated)
The implementation, we have made before, may ...
The implementation, that we have made before, may ...

(without commas)
The implementation we have made before may ...
The implementation that we have made before may ...

Which one is correct and sounds more natural?
Which rules are applied here?
Should I use that here?

In my native language, the part which provides some additional information is always highlighted by commas. It looks logical and more readable for me.

Any assistance would be appreciated. I'll be grateful for a detailed explanation with related references.

  • 1
    What is the rest of your sentence? The options with commas seem wrong, but I'm not sure if that is true if the rest of the sentence is there. – VampDuc Aug 26 '16 at 20:29
  • 1
    Ah, in that case, yes, the commas are wrong. The implementation that we have made before may be a cause of (the) code duplicate. Quite honestly, I'd rewrite the whole thing to an active voice: The cause of the code duplication may be due to a previous implementation. – VampDuc Aug 26 '16 at 20:37
  • 1
    I'm afraid I can't really guide you on that. Maybe someone else will jump in? But that might be a better question for (ell.stackexchange.com) English Language Learners – VampDuc Aug 26 '16 at 20:52
  • 1
    I'd go with the last one, and no pauses in speech. Also it's more natural to contract we have to we've, at least in my west canadian accent – Slepz Aug 26 '16 at 21:18
  • 1
    @VampDuc Except without “due to”, I think you mean. ;-) – Janus Bahs Jacquet Aug 26 '16 at 21:36
3

Of the four structures given,

  1. *The implementation, we have made before, may ...
  2. *The implementation, that we have made before, may ...
  3. The implementation we have made before may ...
  4. The implementation that we have made before may ...

(1-2) are both ungrammatical (whence the asterisks) because commas make a normal
relative clause
into a non-restrictive (parenthetical, supplementary) relative clause,
which

  • has different syntax from restrictive relative clauses,
  • requires a relative wh-pronoun (which, who, etc),
    which
    • can't ever be deleted like (1), and
    • can't ever use that like (2).

(3-4), on the other hand, are both grammatical because they are restrictive (normal, integrated) relative clauses, and thus are not subject to those restrictions. Restrictive relative clauses

  • are not set off with comma intonations at either end
  • are allowed to use either a wh-pronoun or that, regardless of the antecedent

    • The man that came to dinner broke his leg.
    • The man who came to dinner broke his leg.
    • The leg that he broke healed rapidly.
    • The leg which he broke healed rapidly.
  • are not required to have a relative pronoun at all, except as subject

    • *The man came to dinner broke his leg.
    • The leg he broke healed rapidly.
2

It depends on what you're trying to say.

Let's start with:

The implementation we have made before may become a cause of code duplication.

Does "the implementation" refer to the current implementation, or are the two implementations identical?

If so, then it should be:

The implementation, which we have made before, may become a cause of code duplication.

If "the implementation" refers to a previous implementation, then it should be:

The implementation that we made before may become a cause of code duplication.

People often suggest rather strongly to omit "that" when used as a subordinating conjunction; I prefer to leave it for the sake of clarity. There are instances in which omitting it introduces ambiguity.

As for your question about pauses: pause at the commas, if they are used.

Peripherally, you may want to remove the "have", as it implies an ongoing process--as if you are continuing to build the original implementation.

Here's an article with more detail.

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