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    #1

    Columbus reached the land which he believed was India.

    Dear all,

    1. Columbus reached the land which he believed was India.
    2. Columbus reached the land he believed was India.

    I understand both of the sentences are correct. However, I'm not sure if they are equally acceptable or they have diferent degrees of politeness. Is there any such differences between the two?

    Thank you!
    OP

  1. Barb_D's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: Columbus reached the land which he believed was India.

    There is zero difference in politeness.

    The man standing over there is my teacher.
    The man who is standing over there is my teacher.

    I'm curious why you think one would be more polite than the other.
    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.

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    #3

    Re: Columbus reached the land which he believed was India.

    Hi Barb_D,

    Thanks for your reply.

    1. Columbus reached the land which he believed was India.
    2. Columbus reached the land he believed was India.

    Between the sentences above I thought #1 would be more correct or formal for the following reason.

    Normally, the subjective case of a relative pronourn is not omitted. For example, in "I have a friend who lives in New York", "who" is necessary, not optional.

    However, my second sentence, in which the subjective case of "which" is omitted, is regarded as being correct conventionally. I thought this is because even if both #1 and #2 are correct, #1 would be more correct and therefore it would be more formal than #2.

    That's why I posted the question. Now though, I've realized I should have used the word "formal", rather than polite.

    OP
    Last edited by optimistic pessimist; 20-Jun-2014 at 14:01. Reason: correction

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    #4

    Re: Columbus reached the land which he believed was India.

    It's not the subject- he is the subject.

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    #5

    Re: Columbus reached the land which he believed was India.

    Columbus reached the land which he believed was India.

    My analysis is that "which" and "was" are a pair of a subject and a verb, and "he" and "believed" also have a subject-verb relationship.

    OP
    Last edited by optimistic pessimist; 21-Jun-2014 at 14:13.

  2. Barb_D's Avatar
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    #6

    Re: Columbus reached the land which he believed was India.

    While including a bunch of words that are not needed can often be associated with a formal style, I don't consider using more words than necessary GOOD style.

    When people who think they are writing "business English" send me things to edit, I often delete a lot of text. I don't know why people think business English or any other type of English is improved by included what is not necessary.

    I've given up trying to understand the motivation of academics who write for publication, aside from "be as opaque as possible - if people struggle to read it, they will be likely to think I'm really smart."
    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.

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    #7

    Re: Columbus reached the land which he believed was India.

    Quote Originally Posted by Barb_D View Post
    I've given up trying to understand the motivation of academics who write for publication
    I wish you could have a look at most of Spanish laws! The way they are written makes me wonder whether their writers and I really share a language at all!
    Please be aware that I'm neither a native English speaker nor a teacher.

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    #8

    Re: Columbus reached the land which he believed was India.

    Quote Originally Posted by Barb_D View Post
    ...
    I've given up trying to understand the motivation of academics who write for publication, aside from "be as opaque as possible - if people struggle to read it, they will be likely to think I'm really smart."
    I have a feeling that protecting the privilege of an elite comes into it. Some people seem to go out of their way to be obscure.

    ESCHEW OPACITY - that's my motto.

    b

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    #9

    Re: Columbus reached the land which he believed was India.

    Heuristically speaking, I'd agree.

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