Restrictive vs. nonrestrictive clause (a comedian’s view)

Georg Muntingh in Norway wrote that my recent post about the comma and restrictive and nonrestrictive clauses reminded him of something comedian Demetri Martin once said.

According to Georg, Demetri told of a time that he was in a clothing store, picking out a few things to try on. As he walked toward the dressing room, the attendant said, “If you need anything, my name is Jill.”

The story goes that Demetri said to himself, “That’s amazing! I never met anyone with a conditional [restrictive] identity before.” Since Jill had just told him that her name changes with the circumstances, he imagined her saying, “If you don’t need anything, my name is Eugene.”

How could Jill make it clear that her name is the same, whether her customers need something or not? Simple. Change the restrictive clause to something that makes sense and put her name in a nonrestrictive clause, like this:

If you need anything, just ask for me; my name is Jill.

Questions? Comments?

Cheers,

Tara Treasurefield
Tara’s Writing Studio

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About 123clear

I translate foggy information into plain English.
This entry was posted in clear thinking, punctuation, sentence structure, usage. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Restrictive vs. nonrestrictive clause (a comedian’s view)

  1. 123clear says:

    You are very welcome! Good to hear from you.

    Cheers,
    Tara

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