When can we omit relative pronouns ? #english


English writing sometimes makes my head spin 😛 . Too many rules. In this post, I just want to stick a forum message regarding relative pronouns. The author explained when relative pronoun can be omitted from a sentence with very nice examples.

“My dad still owns the car that he bought in high school.”
(Original clause: He bought it in high school.)
“My dad still owns the car he bought in high school.”

“The suit in which he was married was his cousin’s.”
(Original clause: He was married in it.)
“The suit he was married in was his cousin’s.”

Now you can see the problem with trying to delete the relative adverb in this sentence.

“The building where I work is close to the station.”
(Original clause: I work there.)

‘There’ doesn’t function as the object of either the verb or a preposition (it’s an adverb) so it cannot be omitted.

HOWEVER, sometimes you CAN omit relative adverbs if the relative clause occurs at the end of the sentence and the meaning of the sentence will still be readily understood. Examples:

“The office is the place where you spend most of your life.”
(Original clause: You spend most of your life there.)
“The office is the place you spend most of your life.”

“There are times when I regret my decision”
(Original clause: I regret my decision then.)
“There are times I regret my decision. ”

In general, eliminating the relative adverb in this way creates a much more emphatic sentence.

Oh, and Hockey13 was totally wrong. The following sentence is grammatically correct both prescriptively and descriptively.

“This is the village where I was born.”

Original components:
“This is the village.”
“I was born there/here.” (‘there/here’ refers to the location of the village)
A village is a location and can therefore be referred to adverbially with ‘there.’

People often mistakenly use “where” in cases like the following:

“I can’t remember the TV show where I saw that.”

Using “where” is inappropriate in this case because a TV show is not a location. Breaking the sentence down to its original components:

“I can’t remember the TV show.”
“I saw that there.” (What location does ‘there’ refer to in the original clause?)

Therefore the following is more appropriate for academic writing:

“I can’t remember the TV show on/in which I saw that.”

Original clauses:
“I can remember the TV show.”
“I saw that on/in it.” (‘it’ refers to the TV show).

taken from this forum

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