Layer Cake


This post is an attempt to intellectually recover the twenty minutes I just lost.

“Rule 2 

That introduces essential clauses while which introduces nonessential clauses.” 

Sounds good. So what is an “essential clause”?

“An essential clause is a relative clause that limits a general, ambiguous noun.

And a “relative clause”?

“A relative clause is a subordinate clause that modifies a noun phrase, most commonly a noun.”

And a “noun phrase”? The whole thing is a bulbous freakin’ Matryoshka Doll. Each new discovery places you farther from the truth. But this is the way it is. We have our primary colors–subject, verb, object–and the usually tacky adjective/adverb ornaments. The blank canvas is anywhere and everywhere, we just need to find new ways to fill it.

New rules of grammar and usage can only be defined in terms of the ones that came before–I just shudder to think of how many Wikipedia clickthroughs it’s going to take writers a generation from now to hit the bedrock of what they need to know.

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