A little while back, a fellow editor asked me about commas and appositives, particularly with an eye to mentioning titles of books and such like. Consider the following:
A 2011 report, “Fun Things to Do in Ottawa,” makes no mention of the weather in January.
The question was whether the commas should be there. It’s a restrictive, isn’t it? You’re specifying which report, right?
Actually, structurally, no. It’s kind of counterintuitive. In fact, with just a noun phrase there, you can’t make it restrictive. Compare:
A passenger, a young lady, sat next to me.
*A passenger a young lady sat next to me.
A passenger, who was a young lady, sat next to me.
A passenger who was a young lady sat next to me.
When it’s just a noun phrase, it’s effectively an alternate subject (or object, in a case such as “I sat next to another passenger, a young…
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