my favorite tall actress

azz

Senior Member
armenian
a. She is my favorite tall actress.
b. She is my favorite actress who is tall.
c. She is my favorite actress, who is tall.

The meaning of (c) is clear. She is my favorite actress and she is tall.

I think there's a difference between the meanings of (a) and (b).

It seems to me that in (a) is saying that among tall actresses she is my favorite. (Maybe none of my favorite actresses is tall and she isn't even among my favorite actresses. But if I had to chose among tall actresses then she'd be my favorite.)

To me, (b) seems to be saying that among my favorite actresses, she is the one who is tall. She is definitely one of my favorite actresses.

Is that right?

The sentences are mine.

I am not sure (b) is really natural.

Many thanks.
 
  • owlman5

    Senior Member
    English-US
    She is my favorite actress and she is tall.
    This is much clearer to me than She is my favorite actress, who is tall. The comma here is problematic. I might be able to puzzle out that clear meaning you see in c, but it would take more effort to do that than the information would be worth to me.

    a. She is my favorite tall actress.
    It seems to me that in (a) is saying that among tall actresses she is my favorite. (Maybe none of my favorite actresses is tall and she isn't even among my favorite actresses. But if I had to chose among tall actresses then she'd be my favorite.)
    This seems reasonable.

    b. She is my favorite actress who is tall.
    To me, (b) seems to be saying that among my favorite actresses, she is the one who is tall. She is definitely one of my favorite actresses.
    I don't see any indication in b that she is definitely one of your favorite actresses, azz. Your efforts to express subtle differences in meaning with slightly different sentences may be nothing more than sophistry.
     
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    rhitagawr

    Senior Member
    British English
    (a) is the only sentence that sounds natural to me. (b) seems to mean the same as (a) but why bother with the clumsy and unnecessary relative clause? I agree with Azz's interpretation of (a).

    I agree with Azz's interpretation of (c) but two main clauses would be better for stylistic reasons alone. (You wouldn't say I have a piano, which is black, although this would be grammatically correct. You'd say I have a black piano or I have a piano. It's a black one.) (c) jars. Perhaps this is because if there's a descriptive relative clause - one with commas - there's only one person/thing/group. My brother, who lives in Doncaster, is a fireman. There's only one brother. But there are many actresses. Azz picks out one of many and suddenly we're made to think about how tall she is. It's psychologically difficult. Living in Doncaster has something to do with being my brother. But what has being tall got to do with being Azz's favourite actress?
     
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