" I have known Amy..." Phrase Type

EnglishABC

Senior Member
NZ English
  • I have known Amy for thirty-seven years, all of them in connection with sport.

What is the form and function of the italicised words above?

If we recast the sentence, we can use a relative clause (see below), so does this mean that the above is perhaps just an ellipted clause with the common replacement of 'them' for 'which'?

  • I have known Amy for thirty-seven years, all of which have been in connection with sport.


Thanks
 
  • owlman5

    Senior Member
    English-US
    I think you can look at the construction here as an appositive:

    John, thirty-seven years old, is a boring guy is saying the same as
    John, who is thirty seven years old, is a boring guy

    Here, I have used an adjective phrase to modify "John". I didn't need a relative pronoun to do so. I merely set it off with a comma. When you modify a noun this way, it's called an appositive adjective phrase. (I think. Anybody who knows better is welcome to clear the terminology up.)

    Here's an example using "all" and "some":

    All my years, some of them painful, are precious to me.
    All my years, some of which were painful, are precious to me.

    As you can see, I've replaced the relative clause "some of which were painful" into an adjective phrase that comes after the noun it modifies:
     
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    EnglishABC

    Senior Member
    NZ English
    Hi

    You are right in saying that your example without the relative pronoun and verb to be is an appositive. It's in apposition to the noun John.

    But I don't think we can say my example contains an appositive. An appositive renames the adjacent noun phrase, and I do not believe this is what we are dealing with here.

    To test whether we are dealing with an appositive, we can insert the omitted relative pronoun and verb to be and see if the sentence is still grammatical. But I'm not sure if you're are suggesting the appositive begins at 'all' or 'in.' Could you clear this up please.
     

    owlman5

    Senior Member
    English-US
    Hey, English ABC. You posted while I was adding a comment to my first reply. Take a look at it and see if it makes any sense. This appositive idea is the only thing I can think of that applies. I certainly won't waste your time disagreeing with you about the analysis. I hope it helps. If not, then maybe somebody else can give you what you're looking for.

    PS I have run across the term "absolute phrase" in some of my grammar resources. Here's an example. Perhaps you'll like the term better than "appositive".

    Absolute phrases lack a full verb and may lack possessive pronouns.

    The good dogs came stiffly out of their little houses. Their hackles were up and deep growls were in their throats. ==>The good dogs came stiffly out of their little houses, hackles up and deep growls in their throats. (John Steinbeck, The Red Pony)
     
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    EnglishABC

    Senior Member
    NZ English
    Hi, owlman5

    All my years, some of them painful, are precious to me.
    All my years, some of which were painful, are precious to me.
    I agree; this reduction is similar, if not identicle, to the reduction I wrote in my original post. I'm just wondering if we can call it an appositive. To me, an appositive exists when a relative clause with both 'which' and the verb 'to be' are omitted:

    a. My father, who is getting older by the minute, is standing over there.
    b. My father, getting older by the minute, is standing over there.

    c. John Symonds, who is 54 years old, landed on the moon yesterday, which was July 17, 2010.
    d. John Symonds, 54 years old, landed on the moon yesterday, July 17, 2010.

    I'm not familiar with appositives replacing 'which' with 'them' (but that doesn't mean it's wrong of course):

    e. I have known Amy for thirty-seven years, all of which have been in connection with sport.
    f. I have known Amy for thirty-seven years, all of them in connection with sport.
     

    owlman5

    Senior Member
    English-US
    Hi, owlman5



    I agree; this reduction is similar, if not identicle, to the reduction I wrote in my original post. I'm just wondering if we can call it an appositive. To me, an appositive exists when a relative clause with both 'which' and the verb 'to be' are omitted:

    My father, who is getting older by the minute, is standing over there.
    My father, getting older by the minute, is standing over there.

    John Symonds, who is 54 years old, landed on the moon yesterday, which was July 17, 2010.
    John Symonds, 54 years old, landed on the moon yesterday, July 17, 2010.

    I'm not familiar with appositives that replace 'which' with 'them' (but that doesn't mean it's wrong of course):

    I have known Amy for thirty-seven years, all of which have been in connection with sport.

    I have known Amy for thirty-seven years, all of them in connection with sport.
    Hello, English. Once again we were writing simultaneously. Look at my last post and check out the "absolute phrase" comment. I think that might be what we're talking about.
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    I think the phrase is an appositive and begins at "all..." The phrase "all of them ..." is an adjectival phrase describing "37 years" ( a noun phrase representing a period of time). Your rewording in post #1 passes the test you describe in post#3.
     

    EnglishABC

    Senior Member
    NZ English
    I think the phrase is an appositive and begins at "all..." The phrase "all of them ..." is an adjectival phrase describing "37 years"
    Hi, JulianStuart

    Is it common to replace the relative pronoun with 'them' when reducing relative clauses to appositives? That was my only reason I was inclined not to call it that.

    And I presume you don't think this is what it is reduced from, do you?

    I have known Amy for thirty-seven years, which are all of them in connection with sport.
    I have known Amy for thirty-seven years, all of them in connection with sport.

    Instead, do you think the reduction is this?

    I have known Amy for thirty-seven years, all of which have been in connection with sport.
    I have known Amy for thirty-seven years, all of them in connection with sport.
     
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    EnglishABC

    Senior Member
    NZ English
    Hi, owlman5

    We seem to be having trouble taking turns in replying, huh. :D

    Yes, absolute phrase/clause/construction or whatever else you wish to call it. I was going to throw this term into the mix, but I thought it would only confuse matters as few seem to be familiar with this term or regard this as a standard classification. Let's wait to see what Julian has to say in response to post #8.
     
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    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    Yes, the last two sentences in your post #8 are the ones I referred to in your post #1.

    I have read 37 books, all of them in English.
    I have read 37 books, all of which were in English.

    I have seen 37 Rolls Royces, all of them black.
    I have seen 37 Rolls Royces, all of which were black.

    To test whether we are dealing with an appositive, we can insert the omitted relative pronoun (which) and verb to be (were) and see if the sentence is still grammatical.
    Works every time.
     

    owlman5

    Senior Member
    English-US
    Yes, the last two sentences in your post #8 are the ones I referred to in your post #1.

    I have read 37 books, all of them in English.
    I have read 37 books, all of which were in English.

    I have seen 37 Rolls Royces, all of them black.
    I have seen 37 Rolls Royces, all of which were black.

    Works every time.
    Sounds good to me, Julian. As always, I enjoyed reading your opinion on the matter at hand.
     

    EnglishABC

    Senior Member
    NZ English
    Interesting. Good to know. The resources discussing appositives I've used don't show examples of this type of appositive, the type where 'them' replaces 'which' and the verb 'to be' is omitted.

    Maybe I should stop doing simple google searches, haha.

    Thanks for your input.
     

    EnglishABC

    Senior Member
    NZ English
    My first thought (I probably should've mentioned this) was that it was not an appositive but rather a non-finite relative clause:


    have known Amy for thirty-seven years, all of them (being) in connection with sport.
     
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