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  1. #1
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    Default Exception to the rule? Omission of relative pronoun

    Hi first post here, hope to be here for awhile. To get straight to the point- I have a Q about relative clauses and the omission of relative pronouns in speech. I am desperate to get an answer for this one, yes I have tried searching on the net, but have been unsuccessful.

    The rule is that if the relative pronoun refers back to the subject of the sentence, it may not be omitted, but if it refers back to the object, it may.

    The rule seemed to work fine until I came up with these examples:

    *The man who is wearing the glasses looked at me--> The man wearing the glasses looked at me

    *The house that is on the corner is mine --> The house on the corner is mine

    The relative pronoun may be omitted in the above sentences but still make perfect sense. But in this case, if I'm not mistaken, the relative pronoun in each of these sentences refers to the subject. It seems like the word 'is' is the culprit that is making me pull hairs out, what are your explanations for this, teachers???

    Thanks!

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Exception to the rule? Omission of relative pronoun

    The answer is that you are doing more than just omitting the relative pronoun -- you're omitting a verb as well. Consider:

    The woman (who) I wanted to see is on holiday.

    If you omit the relative pronoun, you end up with a sentence that makes sense: "The woman I wanted to see is on holiday."

    "Who" replaces "the woman" which is the object of the sentence "I wanted to see the woman".

    Now take one of your examples:

    The man (who) is wearing the glasses looked at me.

    If you omit only the relative pronoun, you end up with:

    *The man is wearing the glasses looked at me.

    "Who" replaces "the man" which is the subject of the sentence "The man is wearing the glasses", and the rule holds good.

    You are, in fact, changing the structure of the sentence. Whereas before you had a relative clause, now you only have a phrase -- with no finite verb. That's a completely different animal.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Exception to the rule? Omission of relative pronoun

    Thanks for the speedy reply, rewboss. So just to clarify...

    Is 'The man wearing the glasses' then grammatically correct? In comparison to say 'The woman I wanted to see is on holiday'.

    What kind of construction is it? What is the best way I can explain this phenomenon to a student?

    Again, I appreciate the quick response.

  4. #4
    Avalon is offline Member
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    Default Re: Exception to the rule? Omission of relative pronoun

    Reduced relative clause is what you´re using...the pronoun and verb to be may be dropped, thus everyone (who is) studying English should visit this site.
    everyone (who studies)studying English should visit this site...

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Exception to the rule? Omission of relative pronoun

    Thank you Janaina, I had never heard of 'reduced relative clauses' until then. I searched and there were some websites on it. This is great, thank you so much!!

  6. #6
    Avalon is offline Member
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    Default Re: Exception to the rule? Omission of relative pronoun

    most welcome...;)

  7. #7
    Karen D is offline Newbie
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    Default Re: Exception to the rule? Omission of relative pronoun

    Actually, your rule isn't quite correct, either. It's whether the relative pronoun refers to the subject or object of the relative clause, not the main clause, that determines whether you can omit it.

    The woman I was describing is over there. - fine
    The woman told me the story is over there. - not grammatical

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