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  1. #1
    Allen165 is offline Key Member
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    Default Remote Relatives

    "Surprisingly few modern grammarians discuss what has become an increasingly common problem: the separation of the relative pronoun (that, which, who) from its antecedent. For example, in the sentence “The files sitting in the office that I was talking about yesterday are in disarray,” the word that—technically—modifies office, not files. But many writers today would intend to have it modify files. They would loosely employ a 'remote relative.'” (Source: Remote Relatives: Information from Answers.com)

    Would getting rid of "that" solve the problem in the sentence "The files sitting in the office that I was talking about yesterday are in disarray"? Probably not, but the sentence does sound better to me without "that."

    How would one rewrite the sentence to solve the "remote relative" problem?

    Thanks!

  2. #2
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: Remote Relatives

    I don't see it as so much of a problem. Like dangling participles, the intended meaning is normally clear enough. You could say The files that are sitting in the office and that I was talking about /about which I was talking yesterday are in disarray, but it doesn't sound like much of an improvement to me. You could also lose sitting and move in the office to the end, but again I prefer the original.

  3. #3
    TheParser is offline VIP Member
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    Default Re: Remote Relatives

    Quote Originally Posted by Allen165 View Post

    How would one rewrite the sentence to solve the "remote relative" problem?
    CAUTION: NOT A TEACHER


    (1) Thank you for teaching me the term "remote relatives."

    (2) I most respectfully suggest:

    The files that are sitting in the office and that I was talking about yesterday

    are in disarray.

  4. #4
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    shannico is offline Member
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    Default Re: Remote Relatives

    How about this? Would that be too far from the original?

    The files I was telling you about yesterday are (still) sitting in the office in disarray

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Remote Relatives

    Quote Originally Posted by shannico View Post
    The files I was telling you about yesterday are (still) sitting in the office in disarray.
    That's fine.

  6. #6
    JarekSteliga is offline Member
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    Default Re: Remote Relatives

    How about "I was talking yesterday about (some) files sitting in the office. They are in disarray" ?

  7. #7
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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