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  1. #1
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    restrctive & non-restrictive clauses

    Could you please clarify the difference between restrictive and non-restrictive clauses? It is written in grammar books that with restrictive clauses'that' should not be used. What could be the difference between:
    1. My wife who lives in Mumbai is a doctor & 2. My wife,who lives in mumbai, is a doctor.
    Thanks in advance
    R.K.Mohan
    India.

  2. #2
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    Re: restrctive & non-restrictive clauses

    A restrictive clause is sometimes called a defining relative clause, because it defines, or somehow identifies, a person or an object. For example:

    The cat which belongs to Mr Jones is ginger. (That is, not the cat which belongs to Mrs Smith.)

    In this sentence, if you remove the restrictive clause, it is not clear which cat you are talking about.

    A non-restrictive clause is sometimes called a non-defining clause, because it doesn't actually define; instead, it simply provides extra information:

    I know the cat you are talking about. The cat, which belongs to Mr Jones, is ginger.

    In this case, we can leave out "which belongs to Mr Jones" and we can still understand the sentence: we still know which cat is ginger. The fact that it belongs to Mr Jones is extra information.

    Because it's extra information, we use commas. Or we could use parentheses:

    The cat (which belongs to Mr Jones) is ginger.

    In your example, the first sentence. "My wife who lives in Mumbai is a doctor," means that you have more than wife -- but it is the wife who lives in Mumbai (not the one who lives in Kolkata) who is a doctor.

    With the commas, the sentence means that you have only one wife: she is a doctor, and she lives in Mumbai.

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    Re: restrctive & non-restrictive clauses

    The above is a good discussion of restrictive vs. non-restrictive clauses, but it should be added that, in general, you want to use only "that" (or sometimes an implied "that") to begin a restrictive clause, and "which" to begin a non-restrictive clause, though the distinction between the two is becoming blurred over time. The exception to the rule is a clause whose subject or object is a person, in which case "who" or "whom" is used instead, regardless of whether the clause is restrictive of non-restrictive. Thus, all of the following would be correct:

    The cat that I'm seeking lives here. (Restrictive, with "that")

    The cat I'm seeking lives here. (Restrictive, with implied "that")

    The cat, which I like very much, lives here. (Non-restrictive, with "which")

    The girl whom I'm seeking lives here. (Restrictive, with "whom" for a personal object)

    The girl I'm seeking lives here. (Restrictive, with implied "whom")

    The girl, whom I like very much, lives here. (Non-restrictive, with "whom" for a personal object)

  4. #4
    riverkid is offline Banned
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    Re: restrctive & non-restrictive clauses

    Quote Originally Posted by MTKnife View Post
    The above is a good discussion of restrictive vs. non-restrictive clauses, but it should be added that, in general, you want to use only "that" (or sometimes an implied "that") to begin a restrictive clause, and "which" to begin a non-restrictive clause, though the distinction between the two is becoming blurred over time.

    Hello MT. Welcome to UsingEnglish. This distinction was never a rule for English, nor was it ever followed. Certainly, 'that' and especially the zero pronoun are in much more common used than 'which' for restrictive clauses.

    For non-restrictive clauses, only 'which' is used.


    The exception to the rule is a clause whose subject or object is a person, in which case "who" or "whom" is used instead, regardless of whether the clause is restrictive of non-restrictive.

    Both 'that' and 'who/whom' are used for people in restrictive clauses and for nonrestrictive, who/whom and the zero pronoun.

    'who' is also used for animals and even 'which' is occasionally, though rarely, used in reference to people.


    Thus, all of the following would be correct:

    The cat that I'm seeking lives here. (Restrictive, with "that")

    The cat I'm seeking lives here. (Restrictive, with implied "that")

    The cat, which I like very much, lives here. (Non-restrictive, with "which")

    The girl whom I'm seeking lives here. (Restrictive, with "whom" for a personal object)

    The girl I'm seeking lives here. (Restrictive, with implied "whom")

    The girl, whom I like very much, lives here. (Non-restrictive, with "whom" for a personal object)
    ##

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    Re: restrctive & non-restrictive clauses

    And to riverkid's answer, I should also like to add that few speakers or even writers today use "whom".

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