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  1. indonesia's Avatar
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    #1

    Relative clauses! How do I find the subject/object?

    Here we go again!
    My query today is how do I work out what the subject and object is in a sentence using a relative clause?
    All my grammar books say is that if the relative pronoun is the object, then it can be left out (sometimes).
    If it's the subject, then it has to remain in the sentence, But what formula do we use to find out what the subject/object is?

    E.g. 'The lady who lives next door is a doctor.'
    My grammar book tells me 'who' is the subject of this sentence, therefore it must remain.

    E.g. 'The movie which we saw last night wasn't very good.'
    In this example, 'which' is now the object, so it can be left out of the sentence.

    Is there a simple way to work out what job the relative pronoun is doing?
    In all the sentences I have read, it appears the the subject comes directly before the verb in the relative clause, so in my 1st sentence 'who lives', it makes who the subject.
    Then in my 2nd sentence 'which we saw', we is the subject and which is now the object.
    Is this the rule, or am I doing it all wrong?


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    #2

    Re: Relative clauses! How do I find the subject/object?

    (Not a teacher)

    I'm not at all as knowledgable about these matters as many people on this site, however, something occurs to me:

    'The movie which we saw last night wasn't very good.'
    In this example, 'which' is now the object, so it can be left out of the sentence.
    I would have though 'we' is the subject and 'last night' is the object of 'saw. 'Which' is just a subordinating conjunction. You can remove it, yes, but the subject remains the same; who did the seeing? we did. 'Which' here stands for the noun phrase in the main clause - 'The movie'.

    As you said, relative pronouns can be subjects of a relative clause:

    He was the boy who kissed the girl.

    In such cases, removing the relative pronoun is possible, but more controversial: 'He was the boy kissed the girl'.

    I can't think of any examples where a relative pronoun is the object of a verb in a relative clause.

    Anyway, best to wait and hear what those who know more say...
    Last edited by Linguist__; 08-Jan-2010 at 02:26.

  2. mara_ce's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: Relative clauses! How do I find the subject/object?

    Quote Originally Posted by indonesia View Post
    Here we go again!
    My query today is how do I work out what the subject and object is in a sentence using a relative clause?
    All my grammar books say is that if the relative pronoun is the object, then it can be left out (sometimes).
    If it's the subject, then it has to remain in the sentence, But what formula do we use to find out what the subject/object is?

    E.g. 'The lady who lives next door is a doctor.'
    My grammar book tells me 'who' is the subject of this sentence, therefore it must remain.

    E.g. 'The movie which we saw last night wasn't very good.'
    In this example, 'which' is now the object, so it can be left out of the sentence.

    Is there a simple way to work out what job the relative pronoun is doing?
    In all the sentences I have read, it appears the the subject comes directly before the verb in the relative clause, so in my 1st sentence 'who lives', it makes who the subject.
    Then in my 2nd sentence 'which we saw', we is the subject and which is now the object.
    Is this the rule, or am I doing it all wrong?
    The relative pronoun can be omitted when it is used as a defining relative pronoun and when it is not the subject of its clause. The relative pronoun may be omitted when it is used as:

    Direct object: The boy (that) you met yesterday is my brother.

    Indirect object: The man (that) I gave the book to has died.

    Object to a preposition: Is this the pan (which) you make your omelettes in?

    Objective complement: Iím not the fool (that) you thought me.

    Subjective complement: She is not the woman (that) she was before she married.

  3. indonesia's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: Relative clauses! How do I find the subject/object?

    So, does the subject always appear directly before the verb in a relative clause?
    in the examples above, words like 'you' and 'I' are the subjects, these are both in front of the verb.

    I told my students to look at the word in front of the verb, if it is a relative pronoun, then it is the subject, if it's not then it can possibily be left out. Was I correct to say this?

  4. mara_ce's Avatar
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    #5

    Re: Relative clauses! How do I find the subject/object?

    Quote Originally Posted by indonesia View Post
    So, does the subject always appear directly before the verb in a relative clause?
    in the examples above, words like 'you' and 'I' are the subjects, these are both in front of the verb.

    The boy (who broke the window) is called John.
    who: subject
    broke: transitive verb
    the window: direct object

    The boy (that you met yesterday) is my brother.
    that: direct object
    you: subject
    met: transitive verb
    yesterday: adverbial adjunct of time


    I told my students to look at the word in front of the verb, if it is a relative pronoun, then it is the subject, (sometimes a relative pronoun is present and it can be the direct object as in the example above) if it's not then it can possibily be left out. Was I correct to say this?
    There are some exceptions:

    The relative pronoun functioning as subject is omitted in colloquial style after there is, there was, it is, it was, and who is, who was.

    There is somebody at the door (who) wants to see you.
    There was a man (who) called to see you this morning.
    Who was that (who/that) called a few minutes ago?


    The relative pronoun as subject is also generally omitted when the clause contains the there is + to be construction.

    This is the only one (that) there is.
    There are the only good books there are on the subject.
    She taught me the difference there is between what is right and what is wrong.

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    #6

    Re: Relative clauses! How do I find the subject/object?

    Quote Originally Posted by indonesia View Post
    Here we go again!
    My query today is how do I work out what the subject and object is in a sentence using a relative clause?

    E.g. 'The lady who lives next door is a doctor.'
    My grammar book tells me 'who' is the subject of this sentence, therefore it must remain.
    Disclaimer - This is my observation (if you don't like my sentence analysis, please ignore it):

    The lady (subject)
    who lives next door (relative adjective phrase, "who" only heads the adjective phrase describing "The lady" that is all)
    is (copula)
    a doctor (object)

  5. Raymott's Avatar
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    #7

    Re: Relative clauses! How do I find the subject/object?

    Quote Originally Posted by mara_ce View Post
    There is somebody at the door (who) wants to see you.
    There was a man (who) called to see you this morning.
    Who was that (who/that) called a few minutes ago?
    These sentences without the relative pronoun wouldn't be acceptable in AusE, and I imagine BrE. It sounds very American regional.

  6. mara_ce's Avatar
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    #8

    Re: Relative clauses! How do I find the subject/object?

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymott View Post
    These sentences without the relative pronoun wouldn't be acceptable in AusE, and I imagine BrE. It sounds very American regional.
    I can't tell you the source because I copied them from a bunch of photocopies selected by my grammar teacher. As I trust her, I'm sure she can't have invented them.

  7. bhaisahab's Avatar
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    #9

    Re: Relative clauses! How do I find the subject/object?

    Quote Originally Posted by mara_ce View Post
    I can't tell you the source because I copied them from a bunch of photocopies selected by my grammar teacher. As I trust her, I'm sure she can't have invented them.
    I agree with Raymott, they wouldn't be acceptable in BrE.

  8. mara_ce's Avatar
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    #10

    Re: Relative clauses! How do I find the subject/object?

    Quote Originally Posted by mxreader View Post
    The lady (subject)
    who lives next door (relative adjective phrase, "who" only heads the adjective phrase describing "The lady" that is all)
    is (copula)
    a doctor (object)
    I don't understand your analysis. Are you claiming that 'who' is a relative adjective?
    As far as I know, the defining relative adjectives are 'whose and which'. They have adjectival or determiner function (they pre-modify nouns).

    e.g.This is the girl (whose father is a doctor).
    whose: pre-modifier relative adjective
    father: head noun

    On the other hand, the defining relative pronouns are: who, whom, which, and that.

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