Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Will Muffs Commas

Contempt Of Courts

McCain's Posturing On Guantanamo

By George F. Will

Does it rank with Dred Scott v. Sanford (1857), which concocted a constitutional right, unmentioned in the document, to own slaves and held that black people have no rights that white people are bound to respect?

“Unmentioned in the document” is a restrictive past participial phrase: no comma around it. The participial phrase modifies “constitutional right.”

Critics, including Chief Justice John Roberts in dissent, are correct that the court's decision clouds more things than it clarifies.

Including Chief Justice John Roberts” is a restrictive present participial phrase: no commas. The participial phrase modifies the general noun “critics.”


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