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  1. #1
    ChinaDavid Guest

    Unhappy Attributive Clause - China Needs Your Help

    The end of term exams are less than two weeks away. As many will know the exam results here in China 'maketh the man' (or woman). My normal duties involve oral and little written English. However, this next week I want to try and help my students with some grammar difficulties.
    One such difficulty is the 'attributive clause', a complex beast as I remember and more so in a second language. I need to explain to my kids how to understand this, but I need to explain it in simple terms that can be put across in English to Chinese students age C16 years old.
    For the life of me, as I make notes it always comes up as a complex issue, can somebody let me know some simple formula for explaining this, covering basic needs and not too many exceptions as this will only confuse them - I have seen some old papers and there have not been any complex questions involving exceptions and unusual use.
    I need this by Sunday 11th, or Monday may do. i really appreciate this and so will my kids
    David (ChinaDavid)

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Attributive Clause - China Needs Your Help

    I'd like to help, but I'm not sure what you mean by attributive clause. Do you mean relative clauses used attributively? For example,

    1. The car that I bought yesterday has been stolen.
    2. The car I bought yesterday has been stolen.

  3. #3
    ChinaDavid Guest

    Default Re: Attributive Clause - China Needs Your Help

    Quote Originally Posted by Casiopea
    I'd like to help, but I'm not sure what you mean by attributive clause. Do you mean relative clauses used attributively? For example,

    1. The car that I bought yesterday has been stolen.
    2. The car I bought yesterday has been stolen.
    Sorry - you are quite right. The term "Attributive Clause" is the one used in the Chinese text books and as such, used by me.
    So, yes, please help based on the examples sent. I would appreciate your help
    David
    Last edited by Casiopea; 09-Jan-2005 at 11:08. Reason: email address removed.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Attributive Clause - China Needs Your Help

    Quote Originally Posted by ChinaDavid
    Sorry - you are quite right. The term "Attributive Clause" is the one used in the Chinese text books and as such, used by me.
    So, yes, please help based on the examples sent. I would appreciate your help
    David
    Well, first, let's look at the basic four words that introduce relative clauses. They're called relative pronouns, and they all start with wh, with the exception of the pronoun that:

    SUBJECT: who (used for people)
    OBJECT: whom (used for people)
    RESTRICTIVE: that (used for things; but, people, too if they are unknown)
    NON-RESTRICTIVE: which (used for things)

    There are more relatives, such as where used for locations, and when used for time, called relative adverbs, and they won't be discussed here, but if you'd like, we can discuss them later.

    Second, let's look at relative clauses. I'm going to use 'This is. . .' sentences for the sake of simplicity, but please note that, relative clauses, occur in all types of sentences, and they don't always occur at the end of the sentence. Below, the underlined portions are called relative clauses:

    This is the man who lives upstairs.
    This is the woman whom I owe a great deal to.
    This is the DVD that I bought.
    This is the book, which I bought.

    Relative pronouns modify nouns, and they come directly after the nouns they modify. In our examples above, the relative pronouns 'who', 'whom', 'that', and 'which' come after the nouns: man, woman, DVD, and book.

    The relative pronoun and the noun it modifies are one and the same. They carry the same meaning, so semantically, or in terms of meaning, the relative pronoun seems to be needless, or redundant, but it's not. It's required by the syntax, or by the structural aspect of the grammar.

    You see, in English every sentence must have a subject. A sentence is defined as having i. a subject and ii. a tense-carrying verb. If we look back at our example sentences, provided for you below, each of those sentences is actually made up of two sentences. That is, there are two subjects and two tense-carrying verbs per sentence. I've underlined each sentence, and have placed the subjects in pink and the verbs in green:

    This is the man who lives upstairs.
    This is the woman whom I owe a great deal to.
    This
    is the DVD that I bought.
    This is the book, which I bought.

    Notice the relative pronoun 'who' functions as a subject in that example, and that the other relative pronouns don't; they stand alone. In that context, they are not subjects or verbs; they are objects. By unravelling the relative clause, we can determine the function of the relative pronoun, like this.

    This is the woman whom . . .
    I owe a great deal to the woman.

    This is the DVD that. . .
    I bought the DVD.

    This is the book, which. . .
    I bought the book.

    whom, that, and which replace the words 'the woman', 'the DVD', and 'the book'. They all function as objects:

    Object of a preposition
    to + the woman

    Object of a verb
    bought + the DVD
    bought + the book

    Now, when a relative pronoun functions as an object, it's often omitted from the sentence. Please note, the symbol * means, ungrammatical.

    This is the boy I told you about.
    This is the woman I owe a great deal to.
    This is the DVD I bought.

    *This is the book, I bought. (This is explained below)

    It's easy to tell if a relative pronoun has been omitted. All you have to do is look for two subjects and two verbs not joined by a conjunction. Because that's the rule in English, right? A sentence must end in a full-stop, or period of some sort (such as . , ; : ! ?), and if not, then there should be a conjunction somewhere. But, with relative pronouns, specifically those functioning as objects, they're often left out of the sentence, making the sentence appear as if it is a run-on. Look for a grammatical run-on sentence, and you'll find a relative pronoun underneath.

    Now, not all relative pronouns can be omitted. ,which, notice the comma, cannot be omitted. Otherwise, we'd end up with a true run-on sentence:

    This is the book, which I bought.
    *This is the book, I bought. (run-on sentence)

    The comma's function is to tell us that the relative clause is not an integral part of the sentence. That is, the comma, if it could speak, would say, "The clause I am introducing is not an integral part of that sentence. I'm just adding some information that's "By the way, did you know? And if you leave that information out, it'd be OK, because it's really not all that important anyway."

    So, here we have a characteristic that differentiates 'which' from 'that'. 'which' is known as the non-restrictive, or non-defining pronoun, whereas 'that' is known as the restrictive, or defining pronoun.

    Restrictive
    This is the man who lives upstairs.
    This is the boy whom I told you about.
    This is the DVD that I bought.

    Non-restrictive
    This is the book, which I bought.

    ,which if omitted must take with its entire clause:

    This is the book, which I bought.
    This is the book.

    The difference between restrictive and non-restrictive clauses is best described by the following example:

    Restrictive: A suitcase that doesn't have handles is useless.
    Non-Restrictive: The blue suitcase, which doesn't have handles, is useless.

    'that doesn't have handles' is necessary information. If omitted, it renders the sentence semantically odd:

    ?A suitcase is useless.

    Now, if we omit a non-restrictive clause, the sentence's meaning doesn't change:

    The blue suitcase is useless.

    'which doesn't have handles' is added information; it's a kind of "by the way, did you know this?" tag. It is not restricted. You can omit it.

    Now, the easiest way to teach relative clauses is to build them. Write a simple sentence; take the last word, a noun, and use it to make the second sentence, and then replace it with the appropriate relative pronoun or adverb. Note that, RC means, relative clause.

    1) This is the man. 2) The man lives upstairs.

    RC: This is the man who lives upstairs.


    In the above example, who replaces the words the man. who is not a conjunction in that context. If we omit it, we render the sentence ungrammatical.

    *This is the man lives upstairs

    The above sentence is ungrammatical because as we know, in English every sentence must have a subject, and yet in our example, there are two tense-carrying verbs, and yet only one subject:

    *This is the man lives upstairs.

    Each tense-carrying verb should have its own subject. who is an integral part of the sentence. It's a subject, so we can't leave it out.

    So, in short, what we know about relative clauses is that a) they are introduced by a relative pronoun, that relative pronouns begin with wh, except for that, and they have two functions: 1) subject or 2) object. We also know that a relative pronoun is often omitted when it functions as an object, but as a subject it is never omitted. The best way to learn relative clauses is to join two simple sentences.

  5. #5
    ChinaDavid Guest

    Thumbs up Re: Attributive Clause - China Needs Your Help

    Thank you

    The amount of work you've done on my behalf has my full appreciation.

    I shall work on, using your text, to put together a suitable lesson for the students tomorrow and for the rest of the week.

    11pm here in China

    Thank you again
    David

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Attributive Clause - China Needs Your Help

    Quote Originally Posted by ChinaDavid
    Thank you

    The amount of work you've done on my behalf has my full appreciation.

    I shall work on, using your text, to put together a suitable lesson for the students tomorrow and for the rest of the week.

    11pm here in China

    Thank you again
    David
    You're welcome, David, and please don't hesitate to drop by if you need further clarification or assistance with anything else that's grammar related.

    Y'all come back now, ya hear?

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