Can a subjective relative pronoun be omitted?

Hyeonjeong

Senior Member
Korean
(1) It was you [ that ] I wanted to meet. (relative pronoun: objective)
(2) It was you that told me to say so. (relative pronoun: subjective)

I understand you can definitely omit the objective relative pronoun that in sentence (1). Can you also omit the subjective relative pronoun that in sentence (2)? I do not think so. Could you help me clarify it? Thank you always.
 
  • entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    No, you can't omit it. That is a clear difference: subjects can't be, but objects of verbs and prepositions can be.

    It was you [that] I wanted to talk to. (object of preposition)
     

    Sweetboat

    Senior Member
    Korean
    It is OK to use terms like 'subjective relative pronoun' or 'objective relative pronoun'? My students wanted to express these concepts, but I wasn't sure. Could you help me?
     

    natkretep

    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    I've never heard of those terms.

    Entangledbank's point is certainly true of Standard English. In some non-standard varieties you might get ellipsis of the relative pronoun even when it functions as subject. You might encounter it in some films or speech of English speakers. Some examples:

    We had a man worked on the same farm as I did (Over EF)
    if there was a cow stood there the same as here = I’d sit this side (Castle Camps JH)
    I had the first tractor come (for StE came) on the farm up there (Bartlow CP)
    (Source: Cambridgeshire Dialect Grammar: 7. Pronouns - Anna-Liisa Vasko - for the Cambridgeshire dialect)
     

    Forero

    Senior Member
    (1) It was you [ that ] I wanted to meet. (relative pronoun: objective)
    (2) It was you that told me to say so. (relative pronoun: subjective)

    I understand you can definitely omit the objective relative pronoun that in sentence (1). Can you also omit the subjective relative pronoun that in sentence (2)? I do not think so. Could you help me clarify it? Thank you always.
    Yes, you can, but omitting a relative pronoun as subject is unusual in standard English except in constructions such as:

    Yesterday, I met the man (who) they said worked on the same farm I did.

    A proper novelist knows when omitting "that" from something like sentence 2 is appropriate outside the representation of a dialect, and I have seen it done to good effect, but I don't have an example at the ready.

    My preferences for the relative pronoun in sentence 2 (a cleft sentence):

    1 (preferred). that.
    2. omitted.
    3. who.
    4. as. [nonstandard]
     
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