comma with apposition [meaning?; name]: His brother, John, is coming

navi

Banned
armenian
1-His brother, John, is coming over for a visit.
2-His brother John is coming over for a visit.

Does 1 necessarily imply that he has only one brother?
Does 2 necesssarilly imply that he has more than one brother?
 
  • panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    We've done this topic before, not long ago, but I can't find the thread.

    I don't feel that either sentence necessarily has the implications navi listed, but they are strong suggestions.

    Put it another way, if he had only one brother, I would write (1).
    If he had more than one brother I would write (2).
    But I don't think you can infer these from the way the sentences are written.
     

    George French

    Senior Member
    English - UK
    In my opinion, the only sentence that is punctuated correctly is #1, regardless of the number of brothers he does or doesn't have.

    Reganse, I was wondering whether I was still compus mentis after reading Panj's post. It is nice, for at least once in my life, to be completely in accord with a US-EN speaker. :D

    GF..
     
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    entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    (2) has no implication at all about how many brothers he has. If he has a single brother and his name is John, that's his brother John; it's also his brother, John. In (1) there is a fairly clear implication that he has only the one brother, and it's naming him as John, but even this is not definite. If he has two brothers John and George, I can certainly say that his brother is coming over for a visit. Of course, if you know he has two brothers, I might need to explain which is visiting: so his brother - John, I mean - is visiting. Thus his brother, John, is visiting. This is comparatively unlikely but still possible.
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    The distinction I drew out in post #2 is explained in the US Government Printing Office Style Manual (2008) HERE
    8.41. To set off words or phrases in apposition or in contrast.
    ...
    Jean's sister, Joyce, was the eldest. (Jean had one sister.)
    but Jonathan's brother Moses Taylor was appointed. (Jonathan had more than one brother.)​
    EDIT: The link above no longer works. Search for comma from the home page: http://www.gpoaccess.gov/stylemanual/
     
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    reganse

    Senior Member
    English – U.S.
    Incredible!! I've never heard of this. Very strange! It's nice to know, but I'll never use it. Thanks! I guess I'll never finish learning English, either.
     

    George French

    Senior Member
    English - UK
    The distinction I drew out in post #2 is explained in the US Government Printing Office Style Manual (2008) HERE
    8.41. To set off words or phrases in apposition or in contrast.
    ...
    Jean's sister, Joyce, was the eldest. (Jean had one sister.)
    but Jonathan's brother Moses Taylor was appointed. (Jonathan had more than one brother.)

    Panj?

    Jean's sister, Joyce, was the eldester. (Jean had one sister.)

    GF..

    PS. When I followed your link absolutuley nothing happened, uh?!
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Panj?

    Jean's sister, Joyce, was the eldester. (Jean had one sister.)
    The quoted text is correct as it is, unless you make the assumption that the writer is thinking only of Jean and Joyce.
    There is no reason to make that assumption. The writer may be placing Joyce as the eldest of a family of fourteen: ten boys and two girls.
    PS. When I followed your link absolutuley nothing happened, uh?!
    The link I included above has expired. It was the result of a search for comma from the home page: http://www.gpoaccess.gov/stylemanual/
     
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