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Non-essential words, clauses, or phrases provide extra information within a sentence. If you remove the non-essential word, clause or phrase, the meaning of the sentence remains intact.

For example:

  • I think, however, that you should reconsider your answer. (word)
  • The cat, though scared, stood his ground versus the growling dog. (clause)
  • The dog, who is quite old, still chased the cat around the yard. (phrase)

For more information regarding non-essential elements, including how to punctuate them with commas, please refer to The OWL at Purdue: Commas with Nonessential Elements.