November 14, 2002: Issue 43
SIM STYLE: Happy new year!
All SIPs currently in production go on sale in 2003. That means it’s time once again to double check the copyright date on the TOC of your next issue.
GRAMMAR: Know what’s essential
When we looked at the difference between “like” and “such as” last time, we used the following examples.
correct: They included amenities such as a whirlpool bath, a radiant-heat floor, and towel warmers.
correct: Traditional plant combinations, such as delphiniums and roses, helped them achieve the cottage-garden look.
You’ll notice that one “such as” phrase is set off by commas but the other isn’t.
• Essential phrases are not set off by commas. In the bath example, the “such as” phrase is critical to the meaning of the sentence; without it, we wouldn’t know whatkinds of amenities the couple included.
• Nonessential phrases are set off by commas. In the garden example, the “such as” phrase is not critical in understanding the sentence; without it, we would still know that to achieve a cottage-garden look, the couple chose traditional plant combinations.
Tip: If an adjective precedes the subject, as in the second example above, we already know some additional information about the subject. In most cases, the descriptor that follows is likely a nonessential phrase. Look at how adding an adjective changes the phrase in the first example from essential to nonessential.
correct: They included spalike amenities, such as a whirlpool bath, a radiant-heat floor, and towel warmers.