1

Is there any provision in grammar for nested bracketing commas?

Consider a sentence in the form:

I compare this thing and that thing, which, as shown somewhere, has some property, to demonstrate an arbitrary point.

By adding brackets next to the commas I propose two interpretations

  1. I compare this thing and that thing(, which,) as shown somewhere(, has some property,) to demonstrate an arbitrary point.

  2. I compare this thing and that thing(, which(, as shown somewhere,) has some property,) to demonstrate an arbitrary point.

In this example I feel it should be obvious from the context the second interpretation is intended. Is there any way force this interpretation without rewriting the sentence?

I hope something may exist which is similar to how parenthesis then brackets then braces can be used when nesting or how lists can use semicolons where the list entry themselves include commas.

2

This link gives good usage rules.

I suggest a combination approach to avoid confusion:

I compare this thing and that thing (which, as shown somewhere, has some property) to demonstrate an arbitrary point.

  • 1
    Thank you, the article was a good starting point, it contained a link to the summary here which gives a different conclusion. Specifically it states "Use dashes when you want to enclose or set off something that... ...already has commas or parentheses in it". Although I strongly feel it really is a stylistic choice not a hard and fast rule. – RTL Jul 13 '17 at 11:06

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