Does modern English distinguish nonrestrictive and restrictive clause?

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Shimmer Dancer

Senior Member
Chinese
Hi, everyone, I am wondering if nowadays native English speakers distinguish between nonrestrictive and restrictive clauses or not. Do they distinguish it in writing?

For example,
Many young people believe that the classics which do not accord with their taste are not good books.
Many young people believe that classics, which do not accord with their taste, are not good books.

Is there a difference between these two sentences?
 
  • JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    Yes and Yes:D

    Many young people believe that the classics which do not accord with their taste are not good books. (The other ones, in contrast - the ones that do accord with their taste - are OK)
    Many young people believe that classics, which do not accord with their taste, are not good books.(The classics all are bad, and, by the way, they do not accord with their taste.)
     

    The Newt

    Senior Member
    English - US
    I agree with Julian. In US English we generally distinguish as follows (note punctuation):

    Many young people believe that the classics, which do not accord with their taste, are not good books. (All classics are bad books.)
    Many young people believe that the classics that do not accord with their taste are not good books. (Only that ones that don't accord... are bad books.)

    UK English may be different.
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    I agree with Julian. In US English we generally distinguish as follows (note punctuation):

    Many young people believe that the classics, which do not accord with their taste, are not good books. (All classics are bad books.)
    Many young people believe that the classics that do not accord with their taste are not good books. (Only that ones that don't accord... are bad books.)

    UK English may be different.
    In the first, BE (mostly) follows the "comma which" form.
    In the second example BE will use either that or which.

    However, the key distinction present in both AE and BE is the presence or absence of the comma(s) - and the corresponding pause during speech.
     

    Forero

    Senior Member
    For me (an AmE speaker), the choice of relative pronoun does not make a relative clause restrictive or nonrestrictive except for the fact that omitting the relative pronoun only works with a restrictive relative clause. The commas or lack of commas makes all the difference.
     
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