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first time poster here. Can someone help me with comma placement in the following sentence:

Margaret loved music, especially the compositions of Joseph Haydn, which inspired in her an irresistible urge to make art.

It reads fine to me, but I'm getting tripped up because the middle phrase could be read as parenthetical. I need the 'which' to refer to Haydyn's music, not music generally. But if I remove the comma after 'Haydyn' it doesn't seem right.

Amy help greatly appreciated!

  • I would recommend this: "Margaret loved music. Especially the compositions of Joseph Haydn, which inspired in her an irresistible urge to make art." Especially can begin a sentence. – Tushar Raj Nov 28 '18 at 7:13
  • If rephrasing is allowed, instead of just changing the punctuation, you could make it: Margaret loved music, especially the compositions of Joseph Haydn because they inspired in her an irresistible urge to make art. To me, this sounds even better because the final part doesn't sound like an afterthought. – Jason Bassford Nov 28 '18 at 15:05
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This use of commas is slightly ungrammatical in English, even though I would say it's very much accepted in informal prose. This would be the perfect place to throw in an em dash, which I've recently taken a liking to. (I don't think your wording makes it sound like a parenthetical by the way.)

Margaret loved music—especially the compositions of Joseph Haydn, which inspired in her an irresistible urge to make art.

Note that the comma after 'Haydn' has a grammatical function: if you leave it out, it could sound like you're talking of some specific compositions of Haydn that inspired her to make art.

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