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    #1

    Restrictive or non-restrictive clause

    I would like to know whether the who-clause below is restrictive or non-restrictive? Thanks for your advice.

    We are pleased to have the support of over 150 ABC members, who will be acting as volunteers in activities to be organized by the school in 2009.


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    #2

    Re: Restrictive or non-restrictive clause

    Quote Originally Posted by Deepurple View Post
    I would like to know whether the who-clause below is restrictive or non-restrictive? Thanks for your advice.

    We are pleased to have the support of over 150 ABC members, who will be acting as volunteers in activities to be organized by the school in 2009.
    Theoretically, if there is a comma before the relative clause (as above), then it is considered to be non-restrictive.

    However the presence or absence of a comma is not a completely reliable criterion. Lots of writers leave it out when it should be present; and in some cases a comma is used before a restrictive relative clause for various syntactic reasons.

    In spoken language, it is easier to make the distinction: a restrictive relative clause shares the same tone unit as its antecedent; a non-restrictive one opens a new tone unit. The listener will perceive this, if only on a sub-conscious level.

    For the sentence you give, the context may (or may not) make it clear. If we learn from the context that the ABC organisation has just over 150 members, then we can conclude that we are dealing with a non-restrictive clause: all its members will be acting as volunteers.

    If on the other hand, we learn from the context that the ABC has considerably more than 150 members, then we are forced to conclude that the relative clause is restrictive: only about 150 of the, say, 300 members will be acting as volunteers.

    In conclusion, if the context helps you to make the distinction, fine! If it doesn't, the chances are that it's non-restrictive because of the comma preceding it.*


    *MALAN, N., La proposition relative en anglais contemporain. Une approche pragmatique. Gap/Paris, Ophrys, 1999.

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    #3

    Re: Restrictive or non-restrictive clause

    Quote Originally Posted by naomimalan View Post
    Theoretically, if there is a comma before the relative clause (as above), then it is considered to be non-restrictive.

    However the presence or absence of a comma is not a completely reliable criterion. Lots of writers leave it out when it should be present; and in some cases a comma is used before a restrictive relative clause for various syntactic reasons.

    In spoken language, it is easier to make the distinction: a restrictive relative clause shares the same tone unit as its antecedent; a non-restrictive one opens a new tone unit. The listener will perceive this, if only on a sub-conscious level.

    For the sentence you give, the context may (or may not) make it clear. If we learn from the context that the ABC organisation has just over 150 members, then we can conclude that we are dealing with a non-restrictive clause: all its members will be acting as volunteers.

    If on the other hand, we learn from the context that the ABC has considerably more than 150 members, then we are forced to conclude that the relative clause is restrictive: only about 150 of the, say, 300 members will be acting as volunteers.

    In conclusion, if the context helps you to make the distinction, fine! If it doesn't, the chances are that it's non-restrictive because of the comma preceding it.*


    *MALAN, N., La proposition relative en anglais contemporain. Une approche pragmatique. Gap/Paris, Ophrys, 1999.
    I only make myself clear if this is a restrictive clause, as the ABC has more than 150 members.


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    #4

    Re: Restrictive or non-restrictive clause

    Quote Originally Posted by Deepurple View Post
    I only make myself clear if this is a restrictive clause, as the ABC has more than 150 members.

    When determining which type of clause the relative is, remember to take into account modifiers like over 150 members, just over 150 members, more than 150 members.

    over / more than 150 members could mean, say, 160; in which case, we're talking about a non-restrictive.

    If you want a bit more help, I'd have to know approximately how many members there are.

    Incidentally, why did you choose this particular sentence? You've given yourself a difficult task! Linguists are still arguing about which category to put some relatives (like this one) into.

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    #5

    Re: Restrictive or non-restrictive clause

    "If on the other hand, we learn from the context that the ABC has considerably more than 150 members, then we are forced to conclude that the relative clause is restrictive: only about 150 of the, say, 300 members will be acting as volunteers."

    You've hit the nail for me. Thanks again.

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