the following sentence:

Both actors involved, the company A and the company B, decide on this basis if the water is boiled

In my understanding, this is a non-defining relative clause as it gives additional information that is not necessary determine which actors are concerned. Then, my textbook says it is necessary to put it in commas and to mention the subject pronoun. This would be something like

Both actors involved, which are the company A and the company B, decide on this basis if the water is boiled

Is my understanding correct?

Thanks for any help!

  • If your understanding is that which are is grammatically necessary then no - that's not correct (it's optional). But company A and company B (forget the - it's non-idiomatic in this context) is a parenthetical element which does normally need to be set off using commas (or brackets or dashes, for example). Sep 27, 2017 at 15:36
  • I understand. May you elaborate what you mean by non-idiomatic in this context? Sep 27, 2017 at 15:40
  • I mean native speakers don't speak like that. I wouldn't like to get bogged down in whether it's out-and-out ungrammatical to include those definite articles in your example, but it's so "unacceptable" you might as well assume it is. Sep 27, 2017 at 16:43
  • You're probably right about it being non-restrictive ('the actors involved' being defining, 'companies A and B' being vital but recoverable information) but it's an appositive. Appositives are parentheticals. Sep 27, 2017 at 16:55

1 Answer 1


It's not a clause at all, not even a small clause, as it doesn't contain a verb or a participle. It's simply a noun phrase in apposition.

  • Looking at, say, My friend John disagrees, and My friend, John, disagrees, it seems to me the distinction between a "noun phrase in apposition" and a "parenthetical element" is fine to non-existent. Sep 27, 2017 at 16:49

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