"It is animals and plants which...", emphatic structure?


Senior Member
It is animals and plants which lived in or near water whose remains are most likely to be preserved, for one of the necessary conditions of preservation is quick burial, and it is only in the seas and rivers, and sometimes lakes, where mud and sit have been continuously deposited, that bodies and the can be rapidly covered over and preserved.
——Errol White The past life of the earth from Discovery
My reference book says the blue part is an emphatic sentence. But as far as I know, the emphatic stucture should be like this: it is... that/who.... So I am confused about the grammar of the sentence.
Last edited:
  • Cagey

    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    Most people would use "that" instead of "which" in this sentence. However this is not a rule that everyone agrees with or always follows. Here is a thread that will interest you: restrictive "which"?

    (My advice: I think you should follow the rule you learned, since many people regard it as a fixed rule and will think that using "which" to introduce a restrictive clause is a grammatical error. However, realize that not everyone follows this rule, and that you will see even good writers using which where you have been taught to expect that or who.)
    < Previous | Next >