Trump Unrestricted

September 15, 2016
Posted by Jay Livingston

Commas are important. Sometimes.
  • I waved to the young man who was wearing a gray suit.
“Who was wearing a gray suit” is a restrcitive clause. It’s called that because it limits the subject. There could have been a lot of other young men, but I waved to the one in the gray suit.
  • I waved to the young man, who was wearing a gray suit.
With the comma added, the clause becomes nonrestrictive. The young man is the only possible one, and he was wearing a gray suit.

Today we have this statement from Donald Trump’s doctors.

We are pleased to disclose all of the test results which show that Mr. Trump is in excellent health, and has the stamina to endure — uninterrupted — the rigors of a punishing and unprecedented presidential campaign and, more importantly, the singularly demanding job of President of the United States.

With no comma, the clause “which show that Mr. Trump is in excellent health” becomes restrictive. It implies that there may other test results which do not show Trump to be in excellent health. Was the copy editor being cagey or merely careless?

Today’s statement is a bit more specific than the previous medical records released by a Trump doctor — “If elected, Mr. Trump, I can state unequivocally, will be the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency,” which sounds almost as if the Donald himself could have written it.

Of course Mr. Trump is in great health, the best – believe me. I know his doctors, the finest really. I admire them, and they say his stamina is great. I can’t believe that people are complaining about a comma. Don’t get me wrong. I love commas. China – by the way, a very great country – China doesn’t have commas, and we’ve let them get away with that. China is incredible in many ways. I eat Chinese food. I mean, my Chinese chef is tremendous, tremendous. But many people say that there are no commas on the menus. No commas at all. Sad.

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