Sometimes a dependent clause is essential to the meaning of the sentence. Sometimes, dependent clauses add additional non-essential details. These steps will help you decide if a clause is essential or non-essential.
Step 1: Read the whole sentence and identify the clause. Underline the clause
Step 2: Read the sentence without the clause. Does it make enough sense?
Step 3: Read the sentence again, but this time with the clause. Does it make more sense?
Step 4: If the sentence makes complete sense without the clause, place commas around the clause. If the sentence needs the clause to make sense, do not place commas around the clause.
Follow the steps above and practice with these two sentences. Only one sentence needs commas. Which one?
- Our hotel which was near the beach offered free room service.
- The room which has the ocean view is more expensive than the three-room suite.
Answer: The first sentence contains a non-essential clause, and therefore, will require commas around the clause.