comma with apposition (name): my friend, David Pitter is claiming

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Rabelaisian

Senior Member
English - Canadian
"Sir, my friend, David Pitter is merely claiming that he was not there at the time."

Is it okay to make "my friend" what is parenthetical in that sentence and not have a comma after "Pitter," or is that wrong?

Thanks.
 
  • Biffo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    The way you have punctuated it makes it sound as though "Sir" is your friend. Is that what you intend? or do you mean that David Pitter is your friend?

    If so you should write

    Sir - My friend David Pitter is merely claiming...
     

    Rabelaisian

    Senior Member
    English - Canadian
    Oh, so if David Pitter is the friend, there should be no comma at all - not even after "friend"? Within the context, it's clear who the friend is, though. I just don't want to be grammatically incorrect.
     

    Biffo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Oh, so if David Pitter is the friend, there should be no comma at all - not even after "friend"? Within the context, it's clear who the friend is, though. I just don't want to be grammatically incorrect.
    I think it's a matter of style. Let's see if anyone would include the comma. What's important is to separate "sir" from "my friend".

    Examples

    John my friend - David is claiming...

    John - My friend David is claiming...
     

    Rabelaisian

    Senior Member
    English - Canadian
    I could think of another example off the top of my head that would be synonymous with the example that I gave but without the use of "my friend":

    "Your Highness, my brother, Terry Black is asking only for justice and nothing more."
     

    Biffo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I could think of another example off the top of my head that would be synonymous with the example that I gave but without the use of "my friend":

    "Your Highness, my brother, Terry Black is asking only for justice and nothing more."
    I would still assume that "Your highness" was your brother.
     

    Rabelaisian

    Senior Member
    English - Canadian
    Would you also assume that if there was a comma after "Black" as well, or is the only thing that would stop the confusion for you the omitting of the comma after "brother" in this example and after "friend" in the first?
     

    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    It needs to be either:
    "Sir, my friend, David Pitter, is merely claiming that he was not there at the time." (3 commas)
    or
    "Sir, my friend David Pitter is merely claiming that he was not there at the time." (1 comma)
    "David Pitter" is either parenthetical (with commas on both sides) or it's not (no commas). It can't be "half-parenthetical" or "half-appositive". :)
     

    JustKate

    Senior Member
    I agree with Myridon except that I'd say that the only comma that's needed - in fact, the only comma that's correct - is the one after "sir." The other commas are incorrect because "my friend" and "David Pitter" aren't in opposition to each other. They are both essential (a.k.a. restrictive) phrases, and essential phrases aren't set off by commas.

    So for example, in "my husband, David Pitter," the commas are customary because one (usually ;) ) has just one husband at a time and so therefore "David Pitter" isn't essential. The meaning of a sentence would be the same even if "David Pitter" were left out, so often in such cases, the nonessential phrase is set off with commas.

    But most people have more than one friend, so identifying which friend you're referring to is necessary for the sentence to have the right meaning. Therefore "my friend David Pitter" is correct.
     

    Rabelaisian

    Senior Member
    English - Canadian
    What about in this?

    "Your Honour, my client Mr. David Pitter is asking for compensation for financial losses."
    "Your Honour, my client, Mr. David Pitter, is asking for compensation for financial losses."

    Is it fine both ways, with and without the commas?

    And is it just as fine without "my client" at all?

    "Your Honour, Mr. David Pitter is asking for compensation for financial losses."
     

    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    So for example, in "my husband, David Pitter," the commas are customary because one (usually ;) ) has just one husband at a time and so therefore "David Pitter" isn't essential. The meaning of a sentence would be the same even if "David Pitter" were left out, so often in such cases, the nonessential phrase is set off with commas.
    Just as we may or may not know the name of your husband, you may or may not know the name of my one particular friend who is in the room with us or has already been mentioned so I might add his name as an appositive just in case, parenthetically, as an aside.

    "Your Honour, my client Mr. David Pitter is asking for compensation for financial losses."
    "Your Honour, my client, Mr. David Pitter, is asking for compensation for financial losses."
    They could both be correct. In this case, the second is more likely as the judge sees the one client (of the many clients you have) who is in the room and has a piece of paper with his name on it in front of him. I'm sure the bailiff announced his name at the beginning of the proceedings and it's probably been mentioned several times. (Let the record show that the defendant is pointing at my client, Mr. David Pitter.)

    And is it just as fine without "my client" at all?

    "Your Honour, Mr. David Pitter is asking for compensation for financial losses."
    Yes. As is:
    "Your Honour, my client is asking for compensation for financial losses."
     

    wandle

    Senior Member
    English - British
    If both expressions are present, the second needs to be between commas because it is in apposition to the first.
    Thus: 'Your Honour, my client, Mr. David Pitter, is suing on the ground of punctuational deprivation'.
     
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