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    #1

    Reduced relative clauses

    I need some info on reducing relative clauses.

    I broke my plate which had been engraved.
    (I have got lots of plates but I want to make it clear it was the engraved one I broke. Defining.)

    Several issues seem to arise:

    It's past perfect - can we reduce perfect clauses?
    The use of my rather than the seems odd/ unnatural.
    There is no subject, as it's passive, which is fine when it's unreduced but makes it sound wrong if I reduce it.

    I broke my plate engraved. Certainly wrong. We couldn't reduce to this from the past simple (...which was engraved) either. Yet in other contexts the same construction sounds OK (I liked the last song played OR I think the best was the third goal scored.)

    If I add a prepositional phrase (as opposed to a subject) and change my to the, it sounds OK.
    I broke THE plate engraved AT THE FETE.

    I can't find any information that gives rules for the situations I have described. There is some to say that we only reduce if the verb after the relative pronoun is 'be' but that wouldn't explain the issue with the past simple. And some people think we must leave the subject in for reduced relative clauses but I see and hear this not done plenty of times.

    Help, please. Thanks in advance.
    Last edited by AbleSeaman; 10-Apr-2015 at 08:49. Reason: Grammatical error in an example.

  1. bhaisahab's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: Reduced relative clauses

    Please correct the information in your profile, AbleSeaman.

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    #3

    Re: Reduced relative clauses

    I don't understand. What's wrong with it?

  2. bhaisahab's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: Reduced relative clauses

    Your IP address is not located where you say you are.

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    #5

    Re: Reduced relative clauses

    OK, sorry, fixed it.

  3. Charlie Bernstein's Avatar
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    #6

    Re: Reduced relative clauses

    Quote Originally Posted by AbleSeaman View Post
    I need some info on reducing relative clauses.

    I broke my plate, which had been engraved.
    (I have got lots of plates, but I want to make it clear it was the engraved one I broke. Defining.) In ordinary conversation, we would usually say "I've got" or "I have," not "I have got." It's correct but sounds odd.

    Several issues seem to arise:

    It's past perfect - can we reduce perfect clauses?
    The use of my rather than the seems odd/ unnatural. Only if it's not your plate. If it is your plate, it's fine.

    There is no subject Yes, there is. The subject is I.

    , as it's passive, which is fine when it's unreduced but makes it sound wrong if I reduce it. Sorry, I don't understand what you're trying to say.

    I broke my plate engraved. Certainly wrong. Yes, it's wrong, because the adjective, engraved, should be before the noun it describes, plate. Adjectives go before the nouns they describe.

    We couldn't reduce to this from the past simple (...which was engraved) either. Yet in other contexts the same construction sounds OK (I liked the last song played OR I think the best was the third goal scored.) Remember that engraved is an adjective here, not a verb. It's describing the plate, not telling us what the plate does. Plates can't engrave.

    If I add a prepositional phrase (as opposed to a subject) and change my to the, it sounds OK.
    I broke THE plate engraved AT THE FETE. If the plate was engraved at the fete, this is fine. It's a shorter way of saying "I broke the plate that was engraved at the fete."

    But if it was engraved somewhere else, it's wrong. If engraved describes the plate, say "engraved plate." Again, my is totally correct if it's your plate - and wrong if it belongs to someone else.
    Then you might say "his plate" or "her plate."

    You could also say, "I broke the plate, which was engraved, at the fete."

    Notice the use of commas and the word which.


    I can't find any information that gives rules for the situations I have described. There are some who say that we may only reduce if the verb after the relative pronoun is 'be,' but that wouldn't explain the issue with the past simple. I don't understand what your saying here, either.

    And some people think we must leave the subject in for reduced relative clauses but I have seen and heard this not done plenty of times. Native English speakers don't always follow the rules.

    Help, please. Thanks in advance.
    I hope that helps!
    Last edited by Charlie Bernstein; 10-Apr-2015 at 17:43.
    I'm not a teacher. I speak American English. I've tutored writing at the University of Southern Maine and have done a good deal of copy editing and writing, occasionally for publication.

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