descriptive or restrictive relative clause needed

< Previous | Next >
Dear members of the forum,
I have another question for you. In one of the practice TOEFL tests by ETS, there is a passage about desert formation. The excerpt "In wet periods, the land may be able to respond to these stresses. During the dry periods that are common phenomena along the desert margins, though, the pressure on the land is often far in excess of its diminished capacity, and desertification results." puzzles me. After reading the part in bold type, I have the feeling that the relative clause "that are common phenomena along the desert margins" should be descriptive, not restrictive. There are no special dry periods that are common phenomena along the desert margins, are there? I believe that the sentence would make more sense if it were written "During dry periods, which are common phenomena along the desert margins, though, the pressure on the land is often far in excess of its diminished capacity, and desertification results."
What do you think?
Thank you all in advance!
 
  • grassy

    Senior Member
    Polish
    Yes, you're right. Maybe the author felt there were already too many parenthetical elements there and adding another one would disturb the flow of the sentence?
    By the way, usually we talk about restrictive and non-restrictive relative clauses. I hadn't heard of descriptive relative clauses before.
     
    Yes, you're right. Maybe the author felt there were already too many parenthetical elements there and adding another one would disturb the flow of the sentence?
    By the way, usually we talk about restrictive and non-restrictive relative clauses. I hadn't heard of descriptive relative clauses before.
    I agree with you, Grassy. English teachers usually call them "restrictive and non-restrictive." I used to work as a natural scientist. Now I am a TOEFL instructor. Long ago I found the term "descriptive relative clause" somewhere, maybe in Barron's TOEFL prep guide published in the 1990s, and I have been using it since then. I think it conveys the message and is easy for students to remember and understand.
     

    entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    I can't give a particular justification for it, but the original is nevertheless natural. Integrated 'that' clauses are not always restrictive; they just usually are.
     

    Hulalessar

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I can't give a particular justification for it, but the original is nevertheless natural. Integrated 'that' clauses are not always restrictive; they just usually are.
    I agree. I think there may be a difference between British and American English. Oscar Wilde said that he left it to his editor to decide whether "that" or "which" was correct. I had a "traditional" English education and whilst we were told about all the different types of clauses, the distinction between restrictive and non-restrictive relative clauses was not taught.
     
    < Previous | Next >
    Top