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Reply to "Comma before a modifier"

Hi, Nousher—I see that you have brought us a complex specimen to parse.

As vital as their igloos, which permit the Innuits to live in reasonable comfort in an icy land, and just as ingenious, is their winter clothing, so perfect in design and material that it makes them nearly impervious to any arctic weather. (Source of this sentence: as vital as their igloos which permit the innuits to live in).

Subject of this sentence is winter clothing (their winter clothing). I faced no trouble to find out what the subject is. As winter clothing is the subject, all verbs assoiciated with winter clothing will be sigular as well.

Yes, that's right.

What is which permit the Innuits to live in reasonable comfort in an icy land talking about? Is it talking about winter clothing?

No. That relative clause modifies "igloos."

 Or is it talking about igloos?

Yes.

which permit the Innuits to live in reasonable comfort in an icy land contains a verb, permit, which is in plural form. So it is talking about igloos.

 

Right.

However, I cannot understand about what and just as ingenious is talking. Is it giving an extra information about igloos? If it did so, was there any necessecity of placing a comma before and? As just as ingenious and which permit the Innuits to live in reasonable comfort in an icy land both modify igloos, and was enougah to join them. Why has a comma been placed infront of and?

"And just as ingenious" forms a coordinate structure with "As vital." Below I have rearranged the sentence so that you can see clearly how the sentence is put together. The subject of the main clause ("their winter clothing") is in dark green; the predicate of the main clause ("is as vital and just as ingenious as [are] their igloos" or "is as vital and just as ingenious as their igloos [are]") is in blue; and the two relative clauses, one modifying "igloos" ("which permit the Innuits to live in reasonable comfort in an icy land") and the other modifying "their winter clothing" ("[which is] so perfect in design and material that it makes them nearly impervious to any arctic weather") are in brown. Starting with the sentence as you have found it in print, I have manipulated the phrases for your grammatical enlightenment.

(1a) As vital as [are] their igloos, which permit the Innuits to live in reasonable comfort in an icy landand just as ingeniousis their winter clothing, [which is] so perfect in design and material that it makes them nearly impervious to any arctic weather.

(1b) As vital and just as ingenious as [are] their igloos, which permit the Innuits to live in reasonable comfort in an icy land, is their winter clothing, [which is] so perfect in design and material that it makes them nearly impervious to any arctic weather.

(1c) Their winter clothing, [which is] so perfect in design and material that it makes them nearly impervious to any arctic weather, is as vital and just as ingenious as [are] their igloos, which permit the Innuits to live in reasonable comfort in an icy land.

Last edited by David, Moderator
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