Hi,

The sentence below is from a book, and I would like to know if the underlined part is grammatically correct. I think there should be an "of" or at least a "," after box.

Here were people who packed two hundred pounds of dishes into a single box the size of a doghouse, or even worse, people who didn't pack at all.

Thank you,

M
this is correct

"a single box" here emphasizes that they got a lot of dishes (two hundred pounds worth) into just one box - not two or three, but one. But that box was larger than normal, because the box was as large as a doghouse. So the point is these people were very bad at packing, because everyone knows you want to pack dishes in smaller boxes so they aren't so heavy to carry, and aren't as likely to break due to jostling during travel.
i agree with u.Emotion: embarrassed
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Hi guys, thank you for the reply.

-stephenmatlock,

I understand exactly what it means. My question is, why there's no comma between "box" and "the size". "the size of a dog house" is an additional information about "the size" so there should be a comma there, I believe.

Thank you,

m
Commas don't have exact rules, even though people say there do. You can always find someone to say you need them, and someone to say you don't. I go with the "use them to clarify an ambiguity, but if the sentence can stand without them, leave it out."

In this case, the comma doesn't add any clarity. The box the size of a doghouse is clear without the comma. The box, the size of a doghouse, makes the modifying clause stronger (it stands out more with the comma) but it's not needed because the modifying clause is clear without it. Adding this particular comma makes this clause jump out of the sentence and it makes me stop and ask why the extra emphasis. It's hypercorrect and fussy. So I'd leave it out.

I have a Chicago Manual of Style on my desk and I copy edit for a living, and there are instances where the decision comes down to "what feels better." I try to edit so that punctuation is invisible. If a sentence requires too many commas, then I rewrite it or break it apart. My feeling is that too many commas in a sentence mean there are too many thoughts to keep straight. So fewer are better.
great explanation and sounds quite convincing. Thank you, that's exactly what I wanted to know.

M
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