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Grammar 21 - Reduced Relatives
"The cat with long whiskers is my cat." - Which relative pronoun could be used in this sentence?

Grammar 21 - Reduced Relatives

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.

1.
Choose the correct sentence from the following.
The Great Dane whose leg had a fracture went to the vet.
The Great Dane leg had a fracture went to the vet.
The Great Dane who leg had a fracture went to the vet.
The Great Dane where leg had a fracture went to the vet.
'Whose' is the correct relative pronoun. In option 2 the sentence is the same as the sentence in option 1 but with 'whose' removed and it is incorrect to use reduced relative when the relative pronoun is 'whose.' Also, remember 'whose' is a possessive relative pronoun. The sentences in the other options use the wrong relative pronoun
2.
Choose the correct sentence from the following.
The girl whom he likes is engaged.
The girl which he likes is engaged.
The girl when he likes is engaged.
The girl whose he likes is engaged.
'Whom' is the correct relative pronoun used as there is a new subject and verb following it. The sentences in the other options have the wrong relative pronouns
3.
Choose the correct sentence from the following.
The old man whose is an octogenarian is his grandfather.
The old man who is an octogenarian is his grandfather.
The old man which is an octogenarian is his grandfather.
The old man an octogenarian is his grandfather.
'Who' is the correct relative pronoun used as it precedes a noun. In option 4 the sentence is the same as the sentence in option 2 but with a reduced relative and it is incorrect to use reduced relative when the relative pronoun precedes a noun. The sentences in the other options use the wrong relative pronoun
4.
Choose the correct sentence from the following.
The cars who are in the garage belong to the business tycoon.
The cars whose are in the garage belong to the business tycoon.
The cars which are in the garage belong to the business tycoon.
The cars where are in the garage belong to the business tycoon.
'Which' is the correct relative pronoun that can be used in a sentence when it precedes a prepositional phrase. The sentences in the other options have the wrong relative pronouns
5.
Choose the correct sentence from the following.
The books who are lying on the floor are mine.
The books that are lying on the floor are mine.
The books lying on the floor are mine.
Both options 2 and 3 are correct but option 1 is wrong.
The sentence in option 2 contains a relative pronoun and a verb - 'that are' and it is the correct usage. The sentence in option 3 is the same as sentence in option 2 but without 'that are' which is also correct as we can use the reduced relative when the main verb (lying) in the relative clause is progressive. In option 1 the wrong relative pronoun 'who' is used for 'books'
6.
Choose the correct sentence from the following.
The trees where are swaying in the wind belong to the Town Municipal Corporation.
The trees when are swaying in the wind belong to the Town Municipal Corporation.
The trees who are swaying in the wind belong to the Town Municipal Corporation.
The trees that are swaying in the wind belong to the Town Municipal Corporation.
'That' is the correct relative pronoun that can be used in a sentence when the main verb (swaying) in the relative clause is progressive. Also, in place of 'that' we could have used 'which.' The sentences in the other options have the wrong relative pronouns
7.
Choose the correct sentence from the following.
This is the office building that the architect designed.
This is the office building whose the architect designed.
This is the office building the architect designed.
Both options 1 and 3 are correct but option 2 is wrong.
The sentence in option 1 contains a relative pronoun 'that' and it is the correct usage. The sentence in option 3 is the same as the sentence in option 1 but without 'that' which is also correct as we can use the reduced relative when it precedes a new subject and verb. In option 2 the wrong relative pronoun 'whose' is used for 'office building'
8.
Choose the correct sentence from the following.
The person whom likes fast cars is my brother.
The person which likes fast cars is my brother.
The person likes fast cars is my brother.
The person who likes fast cars is my brother.
'Who' is the correct relative pronoun as it precedes a verb (like) other than 'be.' In option 3 the sentence is the same as the sentence in option 4 but with 'who' removed and it is incorrect to use reduced relative when it precedes a verb other than 'be.' The sentences in the other options use the wrong relative pronoun
9.
Choose the correct sentence from the following.
The cat long whiskers is my cat.
The cat whom has long whiskers is my cat.
The cat which has long whiskers is my cat.
The cat who has long whiskers is my cat.
"Which' is the correct relative pronoun used as it precedes an adjective. In option 1 the sentence is the same as the sentence in option 3 but with a reduced relative and it is incorrect to use reduced relative when the relative pronoun precedes an adjective. The sentences in the other options use the wrong relative pronoun
10.
Choose the correct sentence from the following.
The dogs which are in the kennel belong to Joseph.
The dogs in the kennel belong to Joseph.
The dogs who are in the kennel belong to Joseph.
Both options 1 and 2 are correct but option 3 is wrong.
The sentence in option 1 contains a relative pronoun and a verb - 'which are' and it is the correct usage. The sentence in option 2 is the same as the sentence in option 1 but without 'which are' which is also correct as we can use the reduced relative when they precede a prepositional phrase. In option 3 the wrong relative pronoun 'who' is used for 'dogs'
Author:  V T Narendra

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