Relative Pronoun and Predicand

English grammar questions, answered by Alan

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Relative Pronoun and Predicand

Post by Dworkin » Tue Nov 24, 2020 2:54 pm


Could you please tell me whether I have parsed the following sentence correctly?

"The author of a grammar book whom I am now reading says that defining clauses are important".

"The author of a grammar book" is a noun phrase; "of a grammar book" is a prepositional phrase complement that is licensed by the head noun "the author". "whom I am now reading" is a relative clause that refers to the noun phrase. And, the predicate "says that defining clauses are important" refers to the noun "author" and not to the "grammar book", which is part of the prepositional phrase complement.

Usually, the relative clause comes immediately after the noun phrase or noun with which it has anaphorical relationship. In the construction that we are discussing, the head noun is "the author", which is the antecedent of the relative pronoun "whom".

The above sentence is similar to the one used in "The Elements of Style" (pg 30), where the authors say, "If the antecedent consists of a group of words, the relative comes at the end of the group... 'The Superintendent of the Chicago Division, who...' ". The pronoun refers to the head noun but not to the "division".

Thank you very much for your help.

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Re: Relative Pronoun and Predicand

Post by Alan » Thu Nov 26, 2020 3:34 am

Yes, you seem to have a good grasp of the salient points.