The radio blew a fuse(,) which made it stop working (AmE vs BrE again?)


Senior Member
Russian, Russia, Sochi
It's from 'Career Paths: Electronics' text book.
'The radio blew a fuse which made it stop working.'
What does it mean exactly?
(1) The fuse (that blew) made the radio stop working.
(2) The fact that the fuse blew made the radio stop working.

I find meaning (2) more logical, but I would expect a comma for it: 'The radio blew a fuse, which made it stop working'.
And I would expect 'that' instead of 'which' for meaning (1): 'The radio blew a fuse that made it stop working'.
Do I understand it right? And is there any difference between AmE and BrE about it?
  • Glenfarclas

    Senior Member
    English (American)
    A comma would be expected there in American English. Without the comma, it sounds like it was the fuse itself, not the blowing of the fuse, that had that effect.

    Technical books are not always sources of the highest-quality English prose.


    Senior Member
    German/English bilingual
    I don't think there is an AE/BE difference. For correctness, the comma is mandatory, but there are sloppy punctuators on both sides of the Atlantic.


    Senior Member
    English - Northeast US
    The only purpose of a fuse is to blow, literally. A fuse is designed to protect a device (such as a radio) from extreme changes in the electrical supply. The fuse is between the input power and the rest of the radio. During normal use, it is simply a wire, no different than the power cord.

    If there is a power surge (in the electricity coming in from the power cord) the fuse blows (melts, breaks) before the surge can damage the other electronic parts. The fuse can be replaced: it is cheap. Then the radio will work again.

    So there is no way for meaning 1 to be possible: a fuse cannot affect a radio. It is simply a wire that either lets electricity through (normally) or "blows", stopping all electricity.


    Senior Member
    English (American)
    So there is no way for meaning 1 to be possible: a fuse cannot affect a radio.
    I suppose it could be badly manufactured or badly installed in a way that prevents a circuit from being formed or causes a short circuit. Your general point is well taken, though.
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