I am curious to know whether the following is a grammatically correct sentence:

"In the following section, we define first those concepts intrinsic to our problem, followed by the problem itself."

The first part I am unsure of is the first comma, straight after 'section'. The more I look at it the more I think it's incorrect with it there. I think it would still be valid if I removed it, but I'm not one-hundred percent confident about it.

The second part is the portion of text in between the two commas: 'we define first those concepts intrinsic to our problem'. I like the sound of it but I'm not actually sure that it's correct English. Do I need to rearrange the words in some way? I have used this style of writing a lot throughout my thesis, and I am now having these thoughts two days before the deadline - I would call that sod's law.

I suppose I have one, slightly more abstract question: Is there a summarising word alluding to the aesthetic quality of a sentence? I thought perhaps 'tone', for example you could say 'the sentence had a formal tone'. I apologise if this makes no sense, I am know next to nothing about linguistics but I am curious to learn more.

  • Just a quibble - Concepts dwell in the mind. I would deem problems intrinsic to our concepts as being more likely. Somehow, I don't think intrinsic attributes should be more abstract than their possessor. How about pertinent to?
    – Phil Sweet
    Commented Sep 7, 2017 at 2:32
  • Thanks for your suggestion, I think I agree, "pertinent to" would seem to make more sense logically speaking, plus I like the sound of it more. I initially had written "pertaining to", but changed it to intrinsic. Would "pertaining to" also make sense? Commented Sep 7, 2017 at 2:46
  • The two are a commonly confused pair, but I wouldn't use pertaining to here.
    – Phil Sweet
    Commented Sep 7, 2017 at 9:23

1 Answer 1


The sentence is correct. All of it is very well crafted, logical and clear.

The placement of the first comma is optional, and is more of an artifact of spoken versus written language.

When spoken out loud, the comma in this sentence introduces a slight pause to emphasize the importance of what comes next.

When written, it serves no real purpose, but because most of us speak to ourselves (audibly or not) when we read and write, conventional practice puts the comma there anyway.


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.