a relative pronoun as a complement

< Previous | Next >

Julianus

Senior Member
Korean
Hello.

1. a. He is not the strong man that his father was.
b. He is not the strong man which his father was.
c. He is not the strong man who his father was.

2. a. She is not the doctor that I considered her to be.
b. She is not the doctor which I considered her to be.
c. She is not the doctor who I considered her to be.
d. She is not the doctor whom I considered her to be.

Question 1 : When 'a relative pronoun' is used as 'a subjective complement' like sentence (1), some say it should use only 'that', but some say it could also use 'which' like 1(b). can I use 'which' as 'a subjective complement' like 1(b)? and can I even use 'who' like 1(c)?

Question 2 : When 'a relative pronoun' is used as 'a objective complement' like sentence (2), can I use 'which', 'who', and 'whom' like sentence 2(b, c, d)?

Thank you always~.
 
  • entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    Only the (a) forms seem possible in both these, or omitting 'that' entirely. None of the wh-words sounds right. 'Who(m)' in 2 is possible if it was a case of mistaken identity - I considered she was Dr Smith then found out she was another doctor, Dr Jones - but I presume you're only interested in the sense "the kind of man/doctor".

    I don't know quite why this context disallows the wh-words, which otherwise are quite possible in integrated relative clauses (The doctor who I saw is Dr Jones).
     

    Julianus

    Senior Member
    Korean
    3. a. This is not the oasis that I believed it to be. (The antecedent is a object, not a person)
    b . This is not the oasis which I believed it to be.

    In this sentence, can't I use 'which' instead of 'that' like 3(b)?
     
    Last edited:

    entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    The same thing applies: is it a distinction of kind, or of individuals? If I thought it was the Siwa Oasis but now learn we're in a different oasis 100 km to the south, then this isn't the oasis (that/which) I believed it to be. If however I arrive at the Siwa Oasis (correctly signposted) expecting to see magnificent palm trees, a delicious pool of clear water, veiled belly dancers, and stern men riding camels and wearing scimitars - and in fact it's a tatty little tourist trap full of cheap hotels and a McDonald's - then it's not the oasis (that) I believed it to be.

    I hope others will agree with my judgements, but I'm not sure if everyone feels this distinction.
     

    neal41

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    i agree with entanglebank. Only 'that' is acceptable in your sentences. I am not sure how to analyze them. At first I thought they were cleft sentences, but now I do think that they are.
     

    Forero

    Senior Member
    I agree too, and I do see a similarity to cleft sentences, and to as...as... and more...than....

    Each of the sample sentences is about how fitting a given description (an expression of a set of attributes) is for one context compared with another. It is not what the description denotes that is in question but the fitness of the description for the given contexts. The "relative" clauses in question are defining the descriptions only, not a man, a doctor, or an oasis:

    1. Description: "a strong man".
    Where it fits: "His father was _."
    Where it is less fitting: "He is _."

    2. Description: "a doctor".
    Where it fits: "I considered her to be _."
    Where it is less fitting: "She is _."

    3. Description: "an oasis".
    Where it fits: "I believed this to be _."
    Where it is less fitting: "This is _."

    Another example:

    This is not the "ten feet tall" that I expected to see.
    Description: "ten feet tall".
    Where it fits: "I expected to see something _."
    Where it is less fitting: "This is _."

    Other contexts for such descriptions:

    He/she is not half the .... (e.g. not half the doctor I had imagined)
    It is all the .... (e.g. all the oasis I expected)

    Curiously, when the subject is it, such a sentence bears an unfortunate resemblance to a cleft sentence:

    It is not the oasis (that) I expected.

    In this case, I would opt for keeping the that for the cleft sentence and omitting it for this other type of sentence.
     
    Last edited:

    Julianus

    Senior Member
    Korean
    'Who(m)' in 2 is possible if it was a case of mistaken identity - I considered she was Dr Smith then found out she was another doctor, Dr Jones - but I presume you're only interested in the sense "the kind of man/doctor".
    The same thing applies: is it a distinction of kind, or of individuals? If I thought it was the Siwa Oasis but now learn we're in a different oasis 100 km to the south, then this isn't the oasis (that/which) I believed it to be.
    When it was a case of mistaken identity, if I use 'that' instead of 'who(m), could 'that' mean both 'a case of mistaken identity' and 'a case of mistaken kind'?
     

    Biffo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    3. a. This is not the oasis that I believed it to be. (The antecedent is a object, not a person)
    b . This is not the oasis which I believed it to be.

    In this sentence, can't I use 'which' instead of 'that' like 3(b)?
    This is not the oasis that I believed it to be. [It is an oasis but not the oasis I thought.]

    You could say "This is not an oasis, which I believed it to be." but then the meaning is different, i.e. [This is not an oasis, it is something else (a mirage for example)]
     

    geostan

    Senior Member
    English Canada
    1. a. He is not the strong man that his father was. :tick:
    b. He is not the strong man which his father was. I would use which, if the sentence read: He is not a strong man, which his father was.
    c. He is not the strong man who his father was. :cross: I would never say this.
     
    < Previous | Next >
    Top