Relative pronoun for subject and object.

Shadik hasan

Senior Member
Bangla
Normally I know,
The man has a cat that always wants to eat meat.

Here the That defines the cat..

Can we say, The man has a cat who lives in that apartment. ?
- I mean the man
Please explain. And give some examples please.
 
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  • velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    The relative pronoun generally refers to the nearest preceding noun.

    The man has a cat that always wants to eat meat.:tick:
    The man has a cat who lives in that apartment. :cross:
    The cat would seem to be living in that apartment. It is more likely for "who" to refer to the cat than to the man, since it is adjacent to it. This is a stronger reason than: "who refers only to humans", or "only the man who lives in that apartment makes sense".

    You have to express it as: The man who lives in that apartment has a cat.
     

    Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    We can say, 'the man has a girlfriend who lives in that apartment'. But not a cat. And 'that apartment' isn't necessarily the man's; there is nothing in the sentence to say where or whose apartment it is.
     

    e2efour

    Senior Member
    UK English
    "Who" is for people, "that" is for everything else. You will often see or hear "that" used for persons but it should be considered wrong, and definitely bad style.
    Really?

    Here's what the AHD guide to usage has to say on this:

    There is a widespread belief, sometimes taught as correct usage,
    that only who and not that should be used to introduce a restrictive relative
    clause identifying a person. But that has been used in this way for centuries, going
    back to the Old English period, and has been used by the finest writers in English.​
     
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    RedwoodGrove

    Senior Member
    English, USA
    Perhaps I overstated the case. I'll have to give it some more thought and keep an eye out for examples. Certainly we would say:

    The man that is standing there ...

    But probably not:

    Marilyn McGillicuddy, that is the star of the new TV series "The Warmonger That Loved Me" ...

    But I admit I don't normally register the difference between restrictive and non-restrictive clauses.
     

    RedwoodGrove

    Senior Member
    English, USA
    Please see it again
    ?
    As I understand the practice, you almost always associate the relative pronoun with the noun that comes before it. I'd have to say it is one of the trickier things in constructing a complex sentence in English because we don't have genders and cases to identify the noun. Is that what you are asking?
    The relative pronoun generally refers to the nearest preceding noun.
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    Please see it again
    What do you mean, Shadik hasan?
    Are you asking us to look again at your original sentence?
    If so, are you asking us whether
    The man has a cat who lives in that apartment.
    has the same meaning as
    The man who lives in that apartment has a cat.
    ?

    Or are you asking something different?
     
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