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Hello,

I am reading The Elements of Style, one of the most prominent works of teaching writing.

In the book, I see something like the followings.

A proposal to amend the Sherman Act, which has been variously judged, became the national issue.

This leaves the readers wondering whether it is a proposal or the Act that has been variously judged. So the book recommends as follows:

A proposal, which has been variously judged, to amend the Sherman Act became the national issue.

So far, I understand well.

But, what if I want to use restrictive relative, with which I need to remove the comma between the antecedent, a proposal, and the relative, which?

In this case, is the following correct?

A proposal which has been variously judged, to amend the Sherman Act became the national issue.

Do I remove the first comma and leave the second comma to enable a restrictive relative sense?

Please try to disregard meaning, it does not have to be this example.

Just trying to figure out grammar-wise not meaning-wise.

For example,

5. I had a dog, which suffered to death because of loneliness, after moving to Italy.

6. I had a dog which suffered to death because of loneliness after moving to Italy.

#5 indicates in a non-restrictive relative form with commas:

I possibly have owned more than one dog in various periods of my life, and only one died after I moved to Italy

In #6, I want to make #6 indicates:

I had only one dog that died after I, not the dog, moved to Italy, but in a restrictive relative sense. Here how should I apply commas?

To my knowledge, for a restrictive relative, I should remove commas,

So, I did that, but then it looks like the dog, not I, moved to Italy.

So, in this case, do I remove only the first comma but leave the second comma as follows?

7. I had a dog which suffered to death because of loneliness, after moving to Italy.

In restrictive relative clauses, is it ok to remove the first comma between the antecedent and the relative but to leave the second comma ending the relative clause?

Thanks a lot.
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Hello Zaz,

It might be easier to change the examples slightly.

To make the clause restrictive, remove both commas:

1. I bought a dog which died of loneliness in Italy.

Cf.

2. I bought a dog, which died of loneliness, in Italy.

(You bought a dog in Italy. It died of loneliness somewhere.)

Cf. also

3. I bought a dog, which died of loneliness in Italy.

(You bought a dog somewhere. It died of loneliness in Italy.

Best wishes,

MrP
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If you remove the commas that make it nonrestrictive (and by the way, if you did so, I would also change "which" to "that" but I understand that this interpretation of the which/that rule is not shared by everyone), you are referring to the proposal that was variously judged, in contrast to a proposal that was universally liked, I guess, or universally hated.

There's no good way to show that it was the proposal that was variously judged, not whether it was judged to amend the Sherman Act. Making it restrictive requires a bit more care in writing.

At some point, you need to decide whether two sentences work better or whether a rewrite is necessary. There was a proposal to amend the Sherman Act that was variously judged, and this proposal become a national issue.

You absolutely cannot remove just the first comma and leave the second. The result is ungrammatical.
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Thanks for reply.

What about this?

A proposal, which has been variously judged, to amend the Sherman Act became the national issue.

If I remove both commas to make it restrictive, then its meaning becomes different as "to amend" is not linked to "a proposal."

Or is there some way I need to learn?

Or can I just remove the first comma as follows to make it restrictive?

A proposal which has been variously judged, to amend the Sherman Act became the national issue.

Is the above restrictive, and is it ok to have the second comma?

Thanks.
 BarbaraPA's reply was promoted to an answer.
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