A Discussion on Attributive Clauses and Relative Pronouns and Relative Adverbs
Class 1, Grade 2007, Department of English, Foreign Trade and Business College of Chongqing Normal Universi
Abstract: The paper focuses on the understanding of attributive clauses. As is known to all, Relative pronouns and relative adverbs play an important role in introducing attributive clauses. Only by mastering the use of relative pronouns and relative adverbs, can the English learners learn it well. This paper gives definitions of discusses the differences between restrictive attributive clause and non-restrictive attributive clause, discuss relative pronouns and relative adverbs, and the relationship among them, and their use as well. The paper also discusses the difference between attributive clauses and appositive clause. Key words: attributive clause, antecedent, appositive clause, adverbial clause
Attributive clause, as is called the relative clause, is a major grammatical structure of English. It is widely used in reading passages and also the basic structure in understanding the whole article. It is difficult to decide the antecedent and which relative pronoun and relative adverb to choose. Distinguishing the difference between restrictive attributive clause and nonrestrictive attributive clause, the difference between attributive clause and adverbial clause is also difficult. Some English learners feel that they could not make a distinction between attributive clause and appositive clause. In this paper, some basic points of learning attributive clause are discussed.
2 Attributive clauses
Instead of defining an object by pointing it out, naming its characteristics, usually, a specific event or state can be related to it.
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(1) Jim was hit by a bike. In order to indicate which bike hit her, it may do so with the devices that has already considered (that bike, your bike, an old bike). Or it may say something else about it: (1) The bike was driven by a man. (2) The bike was barely moving. Combining the three sentences that have been given and obtain the following: (1) Jim was hit by a bike that was driven by a man. (2) Jim was hit by a bike that was barely moving. In each of these sentences we are limiting the class of bikes by means of a structure that is known as a relative clause. Relative clauses can be paraphrased with complete sentences: (1) The basket was full. The basket was red. (2) The basket that was red was full. (3) The house was built in 1934. The building was old. (4) The house that was built in 1934 was old. In the sentence (2), it is stating that the basket was full and using the relative clause to tell the reader which bottle is meant. In the sentence (4), the clause that was built in 1934 tells the reader which house was old. In sentence (1) and sentence (3), there is usually on way to tell which is the more important and which is to serve an identifying function. If the sentences occur in a larger context and if the intent of speaker or writer was known, there is only one choice. We say that the sentence which serves an identifying function is subordinated to the other one. 2.1 About attributive clauses An attributive clause is one used after a noun to modify the noun. Attributive clauses, although sharing the similarity of being modifiers, are different according to their relationship with the main clause, and can be mainly divided into two types. One is restrictive attributive clause, and the other is non-restrictive attributive clause. 2.1.1. Restrictive attributive clause and non-restrictive attributive clause
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… a modifier that dose not serve the function of restricting the class of objects is called non-restrictive modifier; those that restrict are called restrictive modifiers (Bruce L. Liles, 1950: 7. 79). 2.2. The differences between restrictive attributive clause and non-restrictive attributive clause It can be clearly seen in the following examples: (1) I gave a sandwich to the boy who stood behind Jim。 (2) I gave a sandwich to the boy, who stood behind Jim. (3) The book which they sent me is very good. (4) Between the two parts of the concert is an interval, when we can buy ice-cream. In the first example, the relative noun identifies the antecedent “boy”. In the second sentence, the relative clause added more information, and the noun is shown to be unique by other means. In fact, sentence (2) can be almost paraphrased with a compound sentence: (1) I gave a sandwich to the boy, and he stood behind Jim. Here are some additional examples of restrictive and non-restrictive attributive clauses: (1) We discussed the book that we have read four times. (2) We discussed Gone with the Wind, which we have read four times. (3) I will invite Lucy who lives next door to come to my birthday party. (4) I will invite Lucy, who lives next door, to come to my birthday party. In sentence (2), the proper noun is already identified, the non-restrictive clause merely supplies added information. In sentence (1), however, the book which is talked about doses not be identified. The one that is intended dose not know without restrictive clause. In sentence (3), it informs us that there may be more than one Lucy among them, and the one that they want to invite is the Lucy that lives next door. In sentence (4), it informs us that there is only one Lucy around them, and the sentence that who lives next door can be omitted. If it is omitted, it would not affect the meaning. The difference between restrictive attributive clause and non-restrictive attributive clause is not only in the meaning, but also in semantics: Non-restrictive attributive clauses are set off by pauses in speech and by comas in writing (Bruce L. Liles, 1950: 7.93).
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Correct punctuation is essential in non-defining relative clauses. If the non-defining relative clause occurs in the middle of a sentence, a comma is put before the relative pronoun and at the end of the clause. If the non-defining relative clause occurs at the end of a sentence, a comma is put before the relative pronoun. In restrictive attributive clauses, there are no comas. The president, who listens to all complaints, is out of town. In this sentence, the school may have only one president that everyone knows who he is or the context has made it clear.
3 Relative pronouns and relative adverbs
3.1 Relative pronouns and relative adverbs in restrictive attributive clauses In restrictive attributive clause, the most often used relative pronouns are which, who, whom, that, and whose, and the relative adverbs are why, where, when and so on. Generally, who and which are more usual in written English whereas that is more usual in speech when referring to things. Like interrogative pronouns, relatives occurs at the beginning of the sentence to which they belong, and they may stand for any noun phrase, whether it is a subject, a direct object, an object of a preposition, or any other function. Although relative pronouns may look somewhat like interrogatives, this similarity is largely confined to their being positioned at the beginning. For the interrogatives, what is being referred to can not be known, but for the relative pronouns we know the referent. Furthermore, interrogative pronouns introduce questions, but relative pronouns do not. Instead of eliciting information, relative pronouns introduce clauses that modify nouns. 3.1.1 Relative pronouns in restrictive attributive clause Relative pronouns used as the person of defining a person in attributive clause. In restrictive attributive clause, who, whom, that, and whose can be used to define a person. (1) The man who/that stole your car has been arrested. (2) The man whom/that/who I saw told me to come here. (3) Mrs. Smith whose children are in college is trying to get a job.
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In sentence (1), it shows which man was arrested. In sentence (2), it makes the man more specific. When who is used to modify a person, who can be used either as a subject or an object, but who can not be used after preposition. The relative pronoun “whom” can be used as an object, and it can be after an preposition. Relative pronouns used as the object of defining attributive clause. “Which” or “that” is often used as the object of modifying attributive clauses, and (1) This is the film that/which created a great sensation. (2) All the oranges that fall are picked up by the villagers. (3) The thick book which I have read for three times is the best one that I have ever read. That can not be put after preposition, however, when the preposition is at the end of sentence that can be used, and that can be omitted. (1) This is the pan (that) I boiled the milk in. (2) The agency (that) we bought our tickets from is bankrupt. Relative pronouns used as a possessive in restrictive attributive clause (1) He is the man whose car was stolen. (2) The film is about a spy whose wife betrays him. (3) The visitor whose name was Catherine was well pleased with the apartment. It is more preferable to use that after the following words: all, everyone, no one, nobody, those, everything, nothing, none, something, anything, much, many, few, little and after superlatives. When using the pronoun to refer to the object that can be omitted. (1) Everyone that knows him likes him. (2) Is he the man that sells cats? (3) There were only few that really interested him. 3.1.2 Relative adverbs in restrictive attributive clause Restrictive attributive clause is generally introduced by relative pronouns, however, it can also be introduced by relative adverbs where, when and why: (1) 1989 was the year when he was born. (2) This is the hotel where he we were staying last summer. (3) She didn’t tell me the reason why she refused the offer.
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Where, referring to a place, why, referring to a reason, and when, referring to time, can be used instead of a relative pronoun after a noun. In sentence (1), when refers to the year 1989, and the restrictive attributive clause which is introduced by when makes the sentence clear. In sentence (2), where refers to the hotel. In sentence (3), the restrictive attributive clause introduced by why tells what the reason is, and it makes the information clear. In restrictive attributive clause, when and why can be omitted, while where can not: (1) I would like to know the reason (why) he didn’t come. (2) That was a time (when) the two countries were at war. 3.2 Relative pronouns and relative adverbs in non-restrictive attributive clause Non-restrictive attributive clauses are generally introduced by relative pronouns who, whom, whose, and which and relative adverbs where, when and why. That can not be used in non-attributive clause. 3.2.1 Relative pronouns in non-restrictive attributive clause (1) I have invited Jim, who lives in the next flat. (2) Tom, whom everyone suspected, turned out to be innocent. (3) The 7:30 train, which is usually very punctual, was late today. (4) The singer, whose name he could not remember, was famous. As the same with the use of restrictive attributive clause, who refers to human, and which refers to non-human and whose refers to possessives. In sentence (1), the non-restrictive attributive clause introduced by whom makes the information more specific, and if it is omitted it would not affect the meaning of the sentence. In non-restrictive attributive clause, that which can be used to refer to the whole main sentence or part of the main sentence. (1) Lily drove too fast, which was dangerous. (2) He said he has married her, which surprised us much. In sentence (1), the relative pronoun refers to the whole main sentence. In sentence (2), the relative pronoun refers to the fact that he said he has married her. After numbers and words like many, neither, most and some, the preposition of can be used before whom and which:
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(1) Her sons, both of whom work abroad, rang her up this morning. (2) The buses, most of which were already full, were surrounded by an angry crowd. In sentence (1), the “whom” refers to her sons. In sentence (2), the “which” refers to the buses. 3.2.2 Relative adverbs in non-restrictive attributive clause Relative adverbs when and where can also introduce non-restrictive attributive clauses. (1) We will put off the picnic until next week, when the weather may be better. (2) He is off to London, where he has to give a lecture on the theatre. 3.3 Relative pronoun as 3.3.1 The use of relative pronoun as As can be used as relative pronoun, and it is often used in some definite structures. Such…as, such as (1) The film is not such as I thought. (2) He is not a fool as he looks. The same…as (1) She is the same age as you. (2) He bought the same car as I did. Non-restrictive attributive clause can also be introduced by as. (1) He is often absent, as is often the case. (2) Jack, as might be expected, was attending the conference. In sentence (1), the pronoun as refers to what the main clause talks about, and it is the subject. In sentence (2), as refers to the meaning of the main clause, and it is the subject of the sentence. 3.3.2 The difference between as and which Both which and as can be used in non-restrictive attributive clause to express the whole idea of main clause. They can be used not to modify the antecedent itself, but they have different use (Guo Wenhai，2001:9). As introducing a clause can be put either in front of the main clause or at the end of the main clause to express the speaker’s idea, opinion, attitude, comment or explanation. (1) She is interested in English, as we all know.
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(2) As we had expected, he could finished the task by himself. (3) There was, as I remember, a big tree near the library. In this kind of structure, “as” is often used with some definite verbs such as: see, know, hear, watch, remember, expect, hope, say, tell etc. But if the verb of the clause is negative or the clause is followed by a compound object, “which” is preferred to “us”. (1) He pretended not to see her, which made her disappointed. (2) She got lost in the city, which made her merely crazy. “Which” is used to give a supplementary explanation to the main clause，expressing a state, cause of a matter. (1) He invited us to dinner, which was very kind of him. In this sentence, the clause introduced by “which” has a cause-effect relationship between the main clause and the clause. If the relative pronoun is used as attributive in the clause or the object of a preposition, in this situation, only “which” can be used. (1) She still loves him, which fact makes us surprised. The difference between “as” and “which” is not absolute. Sometimes both of them can be used in informal English. (1) She is kind-hearted, as/which her loving animals shows. (2) It looks like an elephant, as/which anybody can see. 3.4. Attributive clauses and prepositions In formal English prepositions can come before the relative pronoun. However, it much more common to place prepositions at the end of the relative clause, especially in informal spoken English. In attributive clauses, prepositions can be used with which and whom. (1) His car, for which he paid $10,000, is now worth $9,000. (2) This I did at nine o’clock, after which I sat reading the paper. (3) This is the house, in which he once lived. (4) This is the house, which he once lived in. (5) This is the house, where he once lived. Sentence (3), (4) and (5) express the meaning. Where is an adverb, no prepositions can be used with it.
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4 The difference between attributive clauses and appositive clause
Attributive clauses looks a great deal like appositive clause, especially both of them may begin with the word that. However they differ from each other a lot. First of all, they have a different semantic relationship to the noun they follow (. (1) The news that he told me is true. (2) The news that he has got married is true. In the sentence (1), that he told me is an attributive clause, and it modifies the antecedent news. What the news is has not been known. In the sentence (2), that he has got married is an appositive clause and it is the content of the news. In the sentence (1), that is a relative noun and can be replaced by which, functioning as the object of told. It means the news. In the sentence (2), that has on lexical meaning. It merely introduces the noun clause. And it does not have a syntactic function such as subject or object. It can not be replaced by which.
It is said that all things are difficult before they are easy. As long as mastering the basic knowledge, Attributive clauses may become easier and easier to learn. In attributive clauses, there are three main factors that should pay much attention to: the antecedent, the relative pronoun and relative adverbs. It is also very important to master how to use attributive clause and the difference between attributive clause and appositive clause. Attributive are often used in both speaking and writing, and it can help English learns to express themselves very well. Grammar just helps one learn English better, it can not be the only way to learn English. So English learners should not pay much attention to the mistakes they make while speaking. But in written English, especially in grammar test, English learners should use very formal English. Since attributive clauses are wildly used, it is very necessary for English learners to master it.
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Bruce. L Liles, 1950.A Basic Grammar of Modern English. http://wenku.baidu. com/view/6a284f5c3b3567ec102d8a66.html Guo Wenhai, 2001.Jurnals of Changji Teachers College: The Difference Between “Which” and “As”. http://www.cqvip.com Huang Furong, 2009. Friend of Science Amateurs: On Translating Non-attributive Clauses from Syntactic Adjustments. http://172.16.4.10/asp/Detail.asp 胡壮麟等，2006，《语言学教程》。北京：北京大学出版社。 马德高，2008，《教材全易通高中英语必修一》。山东：山东省地图出版社。 章振邦，2003，《新编英语语法教程》。上海：上海外语教育出版社。 张道真，2002，《张道真英语语法》。北京： 商务印书馆国际有限公司。
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