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"That is" is a reformulatory structure that merely connects the sentence with something that was said previously. Syntactically speaking, it does not form part of the sentence but is an inter-sentence linker.
The subject of the sentence is "the nonverbal message." This subject has two coordinated verbs: is and (is) designed: the speaker's message is deliberate but, at the same time, it is designed to make the interlocutor understand that reaction in an indirect way. That means that, when communication is verbal, the message is direct, but when it is non-verbal, the message -- though still deliberate -- is indirect.This message has been edited. Last edited by: Gustavo, Contributor,
Notice, Sly, that you are making a point of not using a comma before "and", not before "but."
"but" is, as a matter of fact, usually preceded by a comma, as it introduces an exception or a restriction in contrast with what was said before: the nonverbal message is deliberate; however, it is indirect.
There is a clear contrast between saying something deliberately and indirectly, as one would generally expect deliberate acts to be direct. However, this is not the case with non-verbal messages.
That is, the nonverbal message is deliberate, but designed to let the partner know one’s candid reaction indirectly.
Is this sentence passive?
I'd like to add a little bit to what Gustavo has said. The second verb phrase ("designed to let the partner know one's candid reaction indirectly") is passive, and for that reason should really be introduced by an "is" of its own.
The passive auxiliary "be" is actually a different verb from the copula "be" (in "is deliberate") and consequently the latter can't properly cover for the other. This is a fairly common mistake, though, even among native-speaking writers. The sentence should read:
That is, the nonverbal message is deliberate, but is designed to let the partner know one’s candid reaction indirectly.
Alternatively, we could use a reduced clause of concession:
That is, the nonverbal message is deliberate, though designed to let the partner know one's candid reaction indirectly.
And that clause of concession may be fronted:
That is, though designed to let the partner know one's candid reaction indirectly, the nonverbal message is deliberate.