I am currently working on an essay, and I have a question about a certain pair of commas. Consider the following sentence:

One of my classmates, Simona Stoyanova, and I carried out independent research, focused on the rotation curve of the Milky Way and dark matter.

Are the commas, which surround the name Simona Stoyanova, needed. I know that if I haven't mentioned the name before there shouldn't be any commas in this place, but it just feels unnatural to write it without the commas.

  • 1
    Does english.stackexchange.com/q/114017 answer your question?
    – tchrist
    Dec 26 '17 at 23:26
  • 4
    It's "correct" but not ideal. You are using commas to set apart a "parenthetical" phrase, a phrase which could be omitted without changing the syntax of the sentence. But a better way to phrase your sentence would be "My classmate Simona Stoyanova and I carried out independent research..." (And there are no doubt other ways to put it.)
    – Hot Licks
    Dec 26 '17 at 23:26
  • I would put myself second and her first. It's less narcissistic.
    – Lambie
    Dec 27 '17 at 1:16
  • Work on essays has no place here unless the Question is posted for its own sake, out of the essay’s context. Cluttering Questions with detail, as … focused on the rotation curve of the Milky Way and dark matter is confusing, not helpful. What’s the grammatical difference if your joint research focusses on the design of bicycle spokes, please? Neither Stoyanova’s name nor that she’s your classmate is greatly relevant. Citing a classmate makes both appear more junior than you’d presumably like. At worst, call Stoyanova your colleague or collaborator… More… Dec 27 '17 at 2:35
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    @Lambie - Don't I put her name first when I say "One of my classmates, Simona Stoyanova, and I..."? Dec 27 '17 at 9:10

The commas indicate an appositive: an elucidation: “James, the baker”, as opposed to an exonym. See also epergesis: Interposing an apposition, often in order to clarify what has just been stated. "I saw you right over there, that is, in my office, rummaging through my desk."

Perhaps reordering might make it feel better

Simona Stoyanova, one of my classmates, ...

Now the appositive describes the person rather than the other way around


The commas indicate additional information which is not necessary but adds context to the sentence (neutral). If the author is adding superfluous information then they would use brackets, while vital information is indicated by dashes (-).

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