Google Answers Logo
View Question
Q: grammar: object reference? ( Answered,   2 Comments )
Subject: grammar: object reference?
Category: Reference, Education and News > Homework Help
Asked by: zero_down-ga
List Price: $4.00
Posted: 13 May 2006 11:02 PDT
Expires: 12 Jun 2006 11:02 PDT
Question ID: 728458
In the sentence below, does "Bakersfield, California" correctly refer
to the town or the baker?

"His mother knew a baker in our town, Bakersfield, California, who
baked the cookies for us"

If Mr Jones is the baker which sentence below is correct and why (cite
the rules that apply). The first sentence sounds better.

"His mother knew a baker in our town, Mr. Jones, who baked the cookies for us"

"His mother knew a baker, Mr. Jones, in our town who baked the cookies for us"
Subject: Re: grammar: object reference?
Answered By: efn-ga on 13 May 2006 12:48 PDT
Hi zero_down,

In the first sentence, "Bakersfield, California" refers to the town,
not the baker, but this is a semantic conclusion, not a grammatical
one.  That is, that is the interpretation that makes sense, based on
the independent knowledge that Bakersfield is a town and not a person.
 Interpreting the sentence as meaning that "Bakersfield, California"
refers to the baker would be strange, but not ungrammatical.

Both the second and third sentences are correct.  A noun phrase that
follows another noun phrase and describes the same thing is called an
appositive.  In these cases, "a baker" is a noun phrase and "a baker
in our town" is also a noun phrase, which happens to contain the first
noun phrase.  So the appositive "Mr. Jones" can follow either noun
phrase.  I agree that the first sentence sounds better, but that is
not because the second sentence is ungrammatical.

Because a noun phrase can contain a noun phrase, as in these examples,
apposition can be ambiguous.  For example, in the phrase "The mother
of the speaker, Carolyn," "Carolyn" could be interpreted as an
appositive to either "the speaker" or "the mother of the speaker."

Additional Links

Page on the appositive from the Grammar Bytes! website

Wikipedia on appositive

I hope this is a satisfactory answer to your question.

Subject: Re: grammar: object reference?
From: pinkfreud-ga on 13 May 2006 12:56 PDT
This reminds me of an old joke:

My friend told me that he knew a man with a wooden leg named Smith. 
"So," I said, "What was the name of the other leg?"
Subject: Re: grammar: object reference?
From: markvmd-ga on 13 May 2006 15:29 PDT
Using parentheses might help if there is confusion.

Important Disclaimer: Answers and comments provided on Google Answers are general information, and are not intended to substitute for informed professional medical, psychiatric, psychological, tax, legal, investment, accounting, or other professional advice. Google does not endorse, and expressly disclaims liability for any product, manufacturer, distributor, service or service provider mentioned or any opinion expressed in answers or comments. Please read carefully the Google Answers Terms of Service.

If you feel that you have found inappropriate content, please let us know by emailing us at with the question ID listed above. Thank you.
Search Google Answers for
Google Answers  

Google Home - Answers FAQ - Terms of Service - Privacy Policy