[Grammar] whose cat is missing

Oceanlike

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I think it's not necessary to put commas in this original sentence but I am not sure:

- Her aunt whose cat is missing has not been able to sleep.
 

5jj

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- Her aunt whose cat is missing has not been able to sleep. She has several aunts. Only one of them has a missing cat.- Her aunt, whose cat is missing, has not been able to sleep. She has only one aunt.
 

Tdol

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Or only one aunt relevant to the conversation.
 

jutfrank

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meaning that if there is only one aunt, then no commas needed?

The commas indicate that whose cat is missing is extra (non-defining) information. That means you can remove the part between commas to get:

Her aunt has not been able to sleep.

We can't know whether she has only one or several aunts from this context.
 

Phaedrus

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- Her aunt whose cat is missing has not been able to sleep. She has several aunts. Only one of them has a missing cat.

Not everybody finds it grammatical for restrictive relative clauses to modify possessive noun phrases. I'd be more comfortable with interpreting Oceanlike's example as containing a mispunctuated (comma-less) nonrestrictive relative clause. For the restrictive meaning, I'd use the double genitive construction:

The aunt of hers whose cat is missing has not been able to sleep.
 

Phaedrus

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Not everybody finds it grammatical for restrictive relative clauses to modify possessive noun phrases.
Perhaps the construction is worse (more unacceptable) when the relativized element in the restrictive relative clause functions as object within the relative clause.

Would any native speaker here use (1) or (2) instead of (4)? The grammaticality judgments are my own.

(1) *[strike]Her aunt you met at the reunion has come to visit.[/strike]
(2) ?? Her aunt that you met at the reunion has come to visit.

(3) ? Her aunt whom you met at the reunion has come to visit.

(4) The aunt of hers that you met at the reunion has come to visit.
(5) The aunt of hers whom you met at the reunion has come to visit.

I find (3) acceptable, but only as a mispunctuated nonrestrictive case, equivalent to Her aunt, whom you met at the reunion, has come to visit.
 
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Tdol

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