comma with date; comma with apposition: In 1291, the city of S., the

Nunty

Senior Member
Hebrew-US English (bilingual)
Here is my sentence:
In 1291, the city of Saint-Jean-d'Acre, the last remaining Crusader stronghold, fell into Muslim hands.

There are three commas. This seems excessive in such a short sentence, but I can't see a way to get rid of any of them.

Does it seem excessive to you? How would you fix it?

(This is for that absolutely horrid generic English translation, which, God willing, will be finished today or tomorrow. And that was another three-comma sentence. Help!)
 
  • Talant

    Senior Member
    Hi,

    You could "fix it" just by changing the word order. However, I think the sentence is better your way.

    "The city of Saint-Jean-d'Acre, the last remaining Crusader stronghold, fell into Muslim hands in 1291."

    Also you can make two sentences.

    "The city of Saint-Jean-d'Acre fell into Muslim hands in 1291. It was the last remaining Crusader stronghold"
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    I guess that this is part of a time line so that it is important to start with the date. If so, why not drop the first comma?
    In 1291 the city of Saint-Jean-d'Acre, the last remaining Crusader stronghold, fell into Muslim hands. (Emphasis on what happened in 1291)

    I can't get rid of any more while keeping it a single sentence. There is always one of those subordinate clauses - or whatever they are called. Other options include:
    The city of Saint-Jean-d'Acre, the last remaining Crusader stronghold, fell into Muslim hands in 1291. (Emphasis on events relating to Saint-Jean-d'Acre)
    The last remaining Crusader stronghold, the city of Saint-Jean-d'Acre, fell into Muslim hands in 1291. (Emphasis on events relating to Crusader strongholds)




     

    FRENFR

    Senior Member
    English
    You cannot remove the comma after the date in this sentence. It has two different "clauses". A date, then the information relating to it. You can't combine the date and the related clause by removing the comma! It has to be there. Why on earth did you remove it? 3 commas is fine. Just one of those things, I guess :)
     

    englishman

    Senior Member
    English England
    Talant said:
    Hi,

    You could "fix it" just by changing the word order. However, I think the sentence is better your way.

    "The city of Saint-Jean-d'Acre, the last remaining Crusader stronghold, fell into Muslim hands in 1291."

    Also you can make two sentences.

    "The city of Saint-Jean-d'Acre fell into Muslim hands in 1291. It was the last remaining Crusader stronghold"
    The sentence is fine with 3 commas, and your two sentence approach is OK, too, but it may be better to replace the full stop with a colon, to maintain the strong connection between the two parts:

    "The city of Saint-Jean-d'Acre fell into Muslim hands in 1291: it was the last remaining Crusader stronghold"
     

    Nunty

    Senior Member
    Hebrew-US English (bilingual)
    Thank you everyone. Since no one seems too horrified by the three commas I'll leave the sentence alone, working on the principle If it works, don't fix it!
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    FRENFR said:
    You cannot remove the comma after the date in this sentence. It has two different "clauses". A date, then the information relating to it. You can't combine the date and the related clause by removing the comma! It has to be there. Why on earth did you remove it? 3 commas is fine. Just one of those things, I guess :)
    I tend to punctuate for euphony, not for rules. I suggested removing the first comma because I would not make a pause at that point in reading the sentence. I did, of course, invite contrary views - though I wasn't expecting quite such a startled response.

    I have no personal problem with the three-comma version. But in view of the world shortage of commas, I also have no personal problem with my two-comma version:D
     

    FRENFR

    Senior Member
    English
    Say this:

    "In 2001, blablabla..." You just stop automatically after the pause. I always read it, hear it, write it, speak it, even in French. I'm quite "startled" because it just sounds so odd to not stop after a date!
     
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