Sentence 1: A is friend of B who is eating an apple.

Sentence 2: A is friend of B , who is eating an apple.

In which Sentence it can be said that A is eating apple? Does the usage of comma change the context of who is eating apple?

  • I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because the sentences are problematic to begin with. – aparente001 Mar 3 '19 at 4:17
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    @alex hiddelton: you need to put an "an" before "apple" in both sentences. Also, since B is eating an apple in both sentences, the meaning of your question is not clear. Could you please edit your question to fix these problems? – hguler Mar 3 '19 at 4:25
  • Does the usage of comma change the context of who is eating apple? – alex hiddelton Mar 3 '19 at 4:30

In both cases, it is B who is eating the apple. However, the addition of the comma in sentence 2 results in a subtle difference in meaning between the two sentences.

If the relative clause "who is eating an apple" is providing essential information about B, then sentence 1 is correct. If it is providing additional information that is not essential to defining B, such that the sentence would still work if the relative clause were dropped, then sentence 2 is correct.

For example, consider the sentence:

Sarah is a friend of the boy who is wearing a red jacket.

Imagine the speaker is referring to a group of boys. The boy who is Sarah's friend is the one wearing the red jacket. In this case, dropping the relative clause is not an option (i.e., "Sarah is a friend of the boy" does not tell us what we need to know); thus, no comma is needed. On the other hand,

Sarah is friend of Tom, who wore a red jacket to the dance.

Here, the comma is necessary because Sarah's friend is clearly identified by his name. Even if the relative clause were dropped (i.e., "Sarah is a friend of Tom"), there would be no ambiguity as to who Sarah's friend is.

See: https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/grammar/relative-clauses

If you want it to be A who is eating the apple, you have to move the relative clause:

A, who is eating an apple, is a friend of B.

| improve this answer | |
  • is there no way to establish relation between A and apple without moving the relative clause? – alex hiddelton Mar 3 '19 at 4:36
  • No, this can't be done with just the addition of a comma. The relative clause has to come immediately after what it's modifying. – hguler Mar 3 '19 at 4:39
  • It occurs to me that you could say, "A is a friend of B and is eating an apple", or "A, who is a friend of B, is eating an apple." – hguler Mar 3 '19 at 4:40

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