Grammar Review Exercises

[The following exercises have been prepared by Ian Johnston of Malaspina University-College, Nanaimo, BC.  These pages are in the public domain and may be used, in whole or in part, by anyone, without permission and without charge, provided the source is acknowledged.  Last revised April 2002]

Non-Restrictive Modifiers and Phrases in Apposition

1.0 Comment

A common use of commas within a sentence is to indicate non-essential information. These go around what are called non-restrictive modifiers (which provide additional non-essential information) and to phrases in apposition (i.e., which further describe something already clearly specified).

If you are not clear about the distinction between restrictive and non-restrictive modifiers, make sure you consult the relevant section in the handbook you use. Remember this key point: if the modifier is non-restrictive, you should be able to remove it from the sentence without significantly altering the main point of the sentence. If the removal does significantly alter what the sentence means, then the modifier is restrictive and has no punctuation around it.

2.0 Exercise in Restrictive and Non-Restrictive Modifiers

Provide commas where necessary in the following sentences.

1. Shakespeare's play Hamlet has frequently been made into a film. In one of the most recent versions Kenneth Branagh who directed the film plays the hero Prince Hamlet.

2. Glen Clark the used to criticize David Anderson the Federal Minister of Fisheries who negotiated a fishing agreement with the Americans.

3. The Protestant population of Northern Ireland which generally supports close ties with Britain controls the police force the Royal Ulster Constabulary. The Catholics who have good reason to be suspicious of the way the Protestants feel about them do not trust this force.

4. The lines of this poem which all have the same rhythm have no rhyme.

5. The man who is accused of the crime had his lawyer Ms Alison Dowd with him at the preliminary hearing which was held on April 13 last Monday in Nanaimo British Columbia.

6. Copernicus's revolutionary new idea that the earth orbited the sun was at first received with much interest by the people in charge of reviewing books for religious unorthodoxy.

7. Women like men should all be included in a Bill of Rights enshrining full economic and legal equality for all those who live in Canada.

8. The last epic film to win an Oscar as best picture The Titanic was made by James Cameron who is a Canadian..

9. In Ibsen's play A Doll's House the heroine Nora lives with her husband Torvald and their children in a house in the city.

10. We need to expel all immigrants who come to this country illegally, but we need to be sympathetic to all those who might face persecution back home.

3.0 Exercise in Restrictive and Non-Restrictive Modifiers and Compound Sentences

Provide appropriate punctuation around the non-restrictive modifiers and phrases in apposition in the following passage. Check also the punctuation of compound sentences, making sure to avoid run on sentences, fused sentences, and comma splices. Get rid of or change unnecessary commas.

Shakespeare's play Hamlet is built on the story of a family in Elsinore the capital of Denmark. The plot is essentially a revenge story which is a very old format it has a victim King Hamlet a villain Claudius and an avenger Prince Hamlet. Early in the play before we learn of the murder we recognize that Hamlet is in an odd mood very upset about something as a result he does not seem to take part in the life of the court. He sounds moody and even suicidal and he talks to others in a curious way which is difficult to understand. Once he has a conversation with the ghost of his dead father who has been murdered Hamlet resolves at once to carry out the killing as his father has urged him to do but even before he returns to the life of the court we can see that his resolution which has appeared so firm is beginning to waver. When his friends Rosencrantz and Guildenstern who were students at Wittenburg with him arrive, Hamlet treats them very suspiciously not knowing whether they are still his friends. The two visitors in fact have been hired by Claudius to spy on Hamlet to find out what is the matter and to report back to the king. Hamlet quickly finds out that his suspicions that they are not really as friendly as they seem are true and this knowledge simply confirms his idea that Elsinore the political centre of Denmark is just as corrupt as he thought. The same reaction occurs when he discovers that Ophelia the daughter of Polonius the chief courtier appears to be part of a plot to deceive him. On this occasion however Hamlet is quite violent to the poor girl who has not really had any say about her participation her father has simply ordered her to take part. Hamlet verbally abuses her and in addition pushes her around, so that she becomes very upset confused and tearful. This scene provides a particularly revealing glimpse of Hamlet's attitude to women especially to those whom he expects to love him but who seem to betray him like his mother. When I first read this play I liked Hamlet quite a lot but now I'm not so sure. His actions suggest too often that his conduct no matter how justified he may feel about it is simply too cruel to others too destructive of human relationships.


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