defining and non-defining relative clauses

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nikita
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defining and non-defining relative clauses

Postby nikita » Sun Sep 05, 2004 10:23 am

Hello,

> I see that you forgot than defining vs. non-defining relative clauses stuff a bit.

I haven't forgotten :)

>You can never have "that" in a non-defining relative clause, only "which".
> Therefore you cannot have a comma there.

This is indisputable, but which sentence seems to you more appropriate?

I know that bow has two meanings that are pronounced differently.
or
I know that bow has two meanings, which are pronounced differently.

I just can't make up my mind which one is proper in context I used it.


First of all, I shouldn't have forgotten what wonderful memory you have. I withdraw my remark about you forgetting this grammar a bit. :)

I will try to give a full answer because I hope that not only you will be reading it.

clause http://www.longmanweddict.com/ a group of words that contains a subject and a verb, but which is usually only part of a sentence

The difference between defining and not-defining clauses is that the first defines the meaning and the second doesn't. This doesn't explain much, does it? :)

For example, if you say:
"I have a brother who lives in Moscow."
The clause "who lives in Moscow" defines what brother I am talking about. It shows that I am not talking about my brother who lives in Kharkov, or not another brother who lives somewhere else.

And if you say:
"I have a brother, who lives in Moscow."
In this case, I have only one brother, so there is no need to define what brother I am talking about. The second part simply provides some additional information about him. It means something like: "I have a brother. By the way, he lives in Moscow." A non-defining clause can easily be left out without big change in meaning.

Please note that in speech you should make a pause when there is a comma.

Back to you sentences. I do believe that the point you were making required a defining relative clause. Obviously, it is you who needs to decide what exactly you are saying.

I know that bow has two meanings that are pronounced differently.


The point here is that you are aware that each meaning has a different meaning.

I know that bow has two meanings, which are pronounced differently.


This sentence means something like: "I know that bow has two meanings. By the way, these meanings are pronounced differently". The main point here is that "bow" has two meanings, not one, or three, or four, etc. And the second clause simply adds some more information.

And one more thing. When you are typing something in Microsoft Word, it always suggests either putting a comma before "which" or changing "which" to "that". Quite a lot of people that know English as a second language simply choose ", which", but every time you need to decide which one you need.

I think I should try to make a few pages with defining & not-defining relative clauses stuff when I have a bit of time. Right now I am trying to finish the new design of the Eclectic English site.

All your further questions, corrections, and amendments about the clauses are cordially welcome.

Nikita Kovalyov
http://www.eclecticenglish.com/

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Last edited by nikita on Mon Sep 06, 2004 10:43 am, edited 1 time in total.

Sergey Vakshul
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Postby Sergey Vakshul » Mon Sep 06, 2004 10:03 am

Hello, Nikita.
Thank you for detailed answering!

Paul

defining and non-defining relative clauses

Postby Paul » Tue Sep 14, 2004 6:36 pm

Sergey and Nikita:

(I wrote this before reading the second part of Nikita's post...)

You will notice that when using the grammatical help in Microsoft Word it always changes the "which" to "that", even when it is properly used in a non-defining clause. This has been on of my pet peeves for ages, because the use of "which" is very exact. As in most languages, the use of stress and the comma are key to the meaning of the clause or sentence. Occasionally you will find a language like ancient Greek and Hebrew that use diacritical marks to indicate the stress, as those languages had no punctuation.

As an aside, the Germans have tried, for the last six years, to do away with the umlaut (the " above a vowel, indicating a following "e", as in für = fuer) and the "ethset" (ß) or double "S". There has been a revolution against these changes and the major publications have gone back to the traditional usage of the word. Switzerland, on the other hand, has not consistently used the umlaut. It caused a huge amount of confusion - much like what happened in Russian in 1917 when three letters were "kicked out" of the language.

All for now, school starts on Tuesday and we have a busy day. It is Labor Day in America - one of our five legal Federal holidays.

Paul

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nikita
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defining and non-defining relative clauses

Postby nikita » Mon Sep 20, 2004 4:57 pm

Hello,

I was proofing one doc when I bumped into this phrase:

Risk analysis is a proactive planning function that is performed for the purpose of identifying and rating risk factors, which could compromise the success of the project.


It looks that the author should have some practice of defining / non-defining clauses.

Obviously, he meant one of the following sentences. Needless to say that they have identical meanings.

Risk analysis is a proactive planning function that is performed for the purpose of identifying and rating risk factors which could compromise the success of the project.


Risk analysis is a proactive planning function that is performed for the purpose of identifying and rating risk factors that could compromise the success of the project.


And only a non-defining clause with "which" can refer to the whole preceding sentence. So the original sentence looks as if "risk analysis / proactive planning" could compromise the success of a project. :)

Cheerio!

Nikita Kovalyov
http://www.eclecticenglish.com/

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Sergey Vakshul
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Postby Sergey Vakshul » Mon Sep 20, 2004 5:58 pm

Nikita, Microsoft heeds your remark.
Since you discovered the problem with MS Word spell-checker they've made some amends and now the spell-checker of MS Word allows you to write "which" without a comma before it
:)

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nikita
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Defining clauses & Microsoft Word

Postby nikita » Wed Sep 22, 2004 5:46 pm

Hello Sergey,

I checked with my fully licensed Microsoft Word and found out that you were absolutely right!!! What a nice surprise!

Actually, I don't remember updating my Microsoft Word files, but I do download Microsoft Windows updates regularly.

Clearly, sometimes you need to have a comma before "which", but you should use it when you need it. Frankly speaking, I believe that all in all it was a good idea to fix that "peculiarity" of Microsoft Word, because for every case when I separate non-defining clause with commas in someone's writing, there are twenty cases when I have to remove them.

Hope to see you in flesh and blood at least on Monday.

Have a nice day.

Nikita Kovalyov
http://www.eclecticenglish.com

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