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    #1

    Relative Clauses

    Is determining if a relative clause is restrictive or non-restrictive sometimes disputed amongst learn grammarians? Some that I have seen seem quite tricky to determine if they are restrictive or not. For example: Tet is a nice time when Vietnamese celebrate Lunar new Year. It seems like a defining clause to me, so I think it is restrictive, but I have had others quite divided on this.

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    #2

    Re: Relative Clauses

    Quote Originally Posted by durianman View Post
    Is determining if a relative clause is restrictive or non-restrictive sometimes disputed amongst learn grammarians? Some that I have seen seem quite tricky to determine if they are restrictive or not. For example: Tet is a nice time when Vietnamese celebrate Lunar new Year. It seems like a defining clause to me, so I think it is restrictive, but I have had others quite divided on this.
    NOT A TEACHER.

    What are "learn grammarians"? Did you mean to write "learned"?

    I totally agree with you that determining whether a clause is restrictive or not can be tricky. This is mainly because it's difficult to define the term "restrictive clause." Supposedly, it denotes information that is essential to the meaning of a sentence, but I find that many times such information is nevertheless set off with commas, which is typical of nonrestrictive clauses. Actually, I myself have started many threads on this forum asking whether a clause was restrictive or not.

    I don't quite understand the example you provided, but if you're asking if there should be a comma after "time," the answer is "no."

  1. Raymott's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: Relative Clauses

    Quote Originally Posted by Jasmin165 View Post
    NOT A TEACHER.

    What are "learn grammarians"? Did you mean to write "learned"?

    I totally agree with you that determining whether a clause is restrictive or not can be tricky. This is mainly because it's difficult to define the term "restrictive clause." Supposedly, it denotes information that is essential to the meaning of a sentence, but I find that many times such information is nevertheless set off with commas, which is typical of nonrestrictive clauses. Actually, I myself have started many threads on this forum asking whether a clause was restrictive or not.

    I don't quite understand the example you provided, but if you're asking if there should be a comma after "time," the answer is "no."
    I agree. No comma.
    "Tet is a time when Vietnamese celebrate Lunar new Year." This is a defining clause (even more so than a restrictive one here). Adding 'nice' doesn't change the main function.

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    #4

    Re: Relative Clauses

    Quote Originally Posted by durianman View Post
    Is determining if a relative clause is restrictive or non-restrictive sometimes disputed amongst learn grammarians? Some that I have seen seem quite tricky to determine if they are restrictive or not. For example: Tet is a nice time when Vietnamese celebrate Lunar new Year. It seems like a defining clause to me, so I think it is restrictive, but I have had others quite divided on this.
    At the risk of splitting hairs, there are two fundamentally separate issues here:

    1. Whether any given relative clause, in a sentence known to be correctly written, is properly classified as restrictive (defining) or nonrestrictive.

    2. Whether any given relative clause is of a kind that is appropriate to its context (i.e. leaving open the question as to overall correctness).

    The first is something upon which a grammarian can rule, and about which there can be no dispute: if the relative clause is separated by commas, it is automatically classified as nonrestrictive. Otherwise, it is restrictive.

    The second is something on which a grammarian may, or may not, be in a position to give a ruling, since the possibility of using a particular kind of relative clause depends upon a combination of syntactic and semantic/sense-related factors. An example of a sentence where, essentially, form-related/grammatical factors alone enable a decision would be

    [1] This is my brother Sam, whom you met last year.
    [2] *This is my brother Sam that you met last year.

    Here only a nonrestrictive clause, such as [1], would be acceptable. Assuming that we rule out the absurd possibility that one person could have two brothers with the same name, [2] can be discounted purely on the grounds of its wording.

    On the other hand, concerning

    [3] This is a picture of my brother who won the piano competition.
    [4] This is a picture of my brother, who won the piano competition.

    no amount of detailed examination of the contents of the sentences can determine whether they are correctly written: if the speaker happens to have only one brother, then [4] will be appropriate. If, however, (s)he has more than one, [3] will be appropriate. Only an enquiry as to the semantic intentions of the speaker would enable the issue to be resolved.

  2. 5jj's Avatar
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    #5

    Re: Relative Clauses

    At the risk of more hair-splitting, I feel that it is possible, if admmittedly unlikely, for durianman's example to be uttered as a non-defining relative, particularly if nice is stressed:

    Tet is a nice time, when Vietnamese celebrate Lunar new Year.
    = Tet is a nice time, (a time) when Vietnamese celebrate Lunar new Year.


    So, unlike Ray, I feel that the addition of nice could change things. Without nice, we are clearly dealing with a defining relative.

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    #6

    Re: Relative Clauses

    Quote Originally Posted by fivejedjon View Post
    At the risk of more hair-splitting, I feel that it is possible, if admmittedly unlikely, for durianman's example to be uttered as a non-defining relative, particularly if nice is stressed:

    Tet is a nice time, when Vietnamese celebrate Lunar new Year.
    = Tet is a nice time, (a time) when Vietnamese celebrate Lunar new Year.


    So, unlike Ray, I feel that the addition of nice could change things. Without nice, we are clearly dealing with a defining relative.
    Agreement with FiveJ. The addition of the adjective would almost certainly make a nonrestrictive clause appropriate.

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