Tuesday, 5 November 2013


Defining and non-defining
·         Defining
A defining clause specifies which person or thing we mean. It cannot be separated from the person or thing it describes.
            By 4.30, there was only one painting which hadn’t been sold.
·         Non-defining
A non-defining clause contains extra information. In writing it is separated by commas, and in speech, if used at all, is usually indicated by intonation.
By 4.30, which was almost closing time, nearly all the paintings had been sold.
            Some of the points given below depend on the type of clause.
Which and that
·         These are alternatives in a defining clause, although which is felt to be more formal.
By 4.30, there was only one painting that hadn’t been sold.
·         That is not used to introduce a non-defining clause.
The train, which was already an hour late, broke down.
·         That cannot follow a preposition.
It was a service for which I will be eternally grateful.
Who and whom
·         Whom is the object form of who and is used formally in object clauses.
He was a person whom everyone regarded as trustworthy.
However, this is now felt to be excessively formal by most speakers and who is commonly used instead.
·         Whom has to be used if it follows a preposition.
To whom it may concern.
To whom am I speaking?
However, in everyday use, it is usual to avoid this kind of construction.
            Who am I speaking to?
            This means ‘of whom’. It is used in both defining and non-defining clauses. Both for people and things.
Several guests, whose cars were parked outside, were waiting at the door.
Several guests, whose rooms had been broken into, complained to the manager.
When and where
·         Non-defining
Here they follow a named time or place.
            Come back at 3.30, when I won’t be so busy.
            I stopped in Maidstone, where my sister owns a shop.
·         Defining
When follows words such as time, day, moment.
            There is hardly a moment when I don’t think of you, Sophia.
Where follows words such as place, house, street.
            This is the street where I live.
Omitting the relative pronoun
            This is common in defining relative clauses when the relative pronoun is the object and especially in everyday conversation.
                        I’ve found the keys (which/that) I’ve been looking for.
                        That’s the man (who/that) I was telling you about.
                        He was a person (who/that) everyone regarded as trustworthy.
When and why can also be omitted in defining relative clauses.
E.g. I will never forget the day (when) Geoff resigned
  The reason (why) he left is still unclear

Where cannot be omitted
That's the shop where we bought our bed.
That's the shop (which/that) we bought our bed in.
Sentences ending in a preposition or phrasal verb
Another common feature of conversational English, as outlined in who and whom above, is to end a defining clause with a preposition.
                        That’s the house I used to live in.
                        I couldn’t remember which station to get off at.
                        He’s not someone who I really get on with.
Omitting which/who + be
It may be possible to reduce a verb phrase after who/which to an adjectival phrase in a defining clause, especially to define phrases such as the only one, the last/first one.
                        Jim was the only one of his platoon who had not been taken prisoner.
                        Jim was the only one of his platoon not taken prisoner.
                        By 4.30, there was only one painting which had not been sold.
                        By 4.30, there was only one painting not sold.
A non-defining can comment on the whole situation described in the main clause.
                        There was nobody left on the train, which made me suspicious.
Phrases with which, such as at which time/point, in which case, by which time, in which event can be used in the same way.
I watched the play until the end of the first act, at which point I felt I had seen enough.
A warning sign ‘Overheat’ may come on, in which case turn off the appliance at once.
Clauses beginning with what and whatever
·         What meaning ‘the thing that’ or ‘things which’ can be used to start clauses.
I can’t believe what you told me yesterday.
What you should do is write a letter to the manager.
·         Whatever, whoever, whichever can be used in a similar way.
You can rely on Helen to do whatever she can.
Whoever arrives first can turn on the heating.
Non-finite clauses containing an –ing form
These are clauses without a main verb. The examples given here are non-defining. Note that the two clauses have the same subject.
o   Actions happening at the same time.
Waving their scarves and shouting, the fans ran onto the pitch.
o   One action happening before another
Opening the letter, she found that it contained a cheque for $1,000.
                        This type of clause often explains the reason for something happening.
                                   Realizing there was no one at home, I left the parcel in the shed.
                        Both these types of sentence might begin with on or upon:
                                   On opening the letter… Upon realizing …
o   An event which is the result of another event.
I didn’t get wet, having remembered to take my umbrella.
o   Where a passive construction might be expected, this is often shortened to a past participle.
Having been abandoned by his colleagues, the Minister was forced to resign.
Abandoned by his colleagues, the Minister was forced to resign.

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