English is a beautiful language made more beautiful by its grammar and conventions. In the previous High English quiz we were exposed to relatives, or relative pronouns, and found that they are relatively few in number and comprise the words 'who', 'whom', 'whose', 'which', 'where', 'when' and 'that'. We also learnt under what circumstances specific relatives could be used. In this quiz we look at reduced relative pronouns.
Sometimes we find that the speaker or writer may have used some redundant words and we, as readers or listeners, think we could have done a better job. Look at these two sentences:
‘The man who is talking to the airhostess is the pilot.’
‘The man talking to the airhostess is the pilot.’
In the second sentence we have removed ‘who is’ and find the sentence reads all right without losing any meaning.
There are certain conditions to be followed for the use of reduced relatives in sentences. We may delete the relative pronoun when it precedes a prepositional phrase, as in this example:
‘The laptop WHICH IS on the table is mine.'
'The laptop on the table is mine.’
We may also delete the relative pronoun when the relative clause contains a progressive main verb, as in this example:
‘The boy WHO IS climbing the mountain is my brother.'
'The boy climbing the mountain is my brother.’
We may also delete a relative pronoun when it precedes a new subject and verb, as in this instance:
‘This is the place WHERE I work.'
'This is the place I work.’
However, there are instances where you cannot remove the relative pronouns. For example, in the sentence ‘the woman who is a nurse is my mother,’ if we remove ‘who is’ the sentence would read as ‘the woman a nurse is my mother’ and this is bad grammar - it's meaning is not clear. We cannot delete the relative pronoun and the verb ‘be’ when it precedes a noun as in the example above. Similarly, we cannot delete the relative pronoun and the verb ‘be’ when it precedes an adjective. For instance, in the sentence ‘the girl who is beautiful is my sister’ we cannot remove ‘who is’ as it would read ‘the girl beautiful is my sister,’ which does not sound right.
The quiz on grammar that follows takes you through some of the instances where reduced relative pronouns can or cannot be used.