Relative pronouns: Omitting that/which.

Hani_D

Banned
Arabic
Hello,

What do you think about the following sentence:

The letter you sent me arrived yesterday.

Is it correct?

Thanks,
 
  • river

    Senior Member
    U.S. English
    No, I'm saying that "that" is correct. But in your sentence "that" may be omitted.
     

    Hani_D

    Banned
    Arabic
    Well, I have an American English course (Longman) and they clearly state that (that, which, and whom) CANNOT be omitted when they occur as objects.

    The sentence up there was their example of an incorrect sentence. I've been observing this rule for years, although I hear it breached all the time. This is not the only rule in that book that differs from what I hear in real life. Yesterday I posted a thread about "as well as."

    I just don't understand.
     

    dn88

    Senior Member
    Polish
    Well, I have an American English course (Longman) and they clearly state that (that, which, and whom) CANNOT be omitted when they occur as objects.

    The sentence up there was their example of an incorrect sentence. I've been observing this rule for years, although I hear it breached all the time. This is not the only rule in that book that differs from what I hear in real life. Yesterday I posted a thread about "as well as."

    I just don't understand.
    I'm really sure the omission is fully permissible, the sentence sounds perfectly fine without "that".
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    The letter you sent me arrived yesterday.

    I don't understand the relevance of "when they occur as objects".
    In this example "(that) you sent me" is a relative clause modifying the subject of the sentence - isn't it?

    The sentence seems fine to me without that.
    I would almost certainly not omit that myself, but then I am a compulsive that-includer.

    (It would, incidentally, be courteous to let us know that you are quoting from a textbook.)
     

    rocstar

    Senior Member
    México - Español-
    Hi Hani D: ......................Subject/Verb
    Look carefully:....... The man who lives next to me is friendly.
    ...........................The man that lives next to me is friendly. In both cases you can't drop who or that.
    Next case is different:
    ............................Object/Subj/Verb
    ...................The man whom I met was friendly.
    ..................The man that I met was friendly.
    You can drop them: The man I met was friendly.
    I hope it helps!
    Rocstar
     

    Hani_D

    Banned
    Arabic
    Actually the book doesn't say "objects." It says, literaly "an adjective clause can only be reduced if the connector is also a subject."

    Then it mentions that sentence up there, amongst others, as an example of unreducable clause.

    It is funny that you people believe so, while this course maybe the number one TOEFL preparation course. It appears that TOEFL examinees are being faulted for perfectly correct answers.
     

    Hani_D

    Banned
    Arabic
    Hi Hani D: ......................Subject/Verb
    Look carefully:....... The man who lives next to me is friendly.
    ...........................The man that lives next to me is friendly. In both cases you can't drop who or that.
    Next case is different:
    ............................Object/Subj/Verb
    ...................The man whom I met was friendly.
    ..................The man that I met was friendly.
    You can drop them: The man I met was friendly.
    I hope it helps!
    Rocstar
    Actually it's the absolute opposite :)

    The first two senteces are reducable, the second two are not!
     

    rocstar

    Senior Member
    México - Español-
    Hi Hani D:
    Please double check your response to my post.
    You are saying that I CAN drop -that- in this sentence:
    The man that lives next to me is friendly. Then it would say:
    The man lives next to me is friendly.....Totally incorrect !
    Rocstar
     

    dn88

    Senior Member
    Polish
    Actually it's the absolute opposite :)

    The first two senteces are reducable, the second two are not!
    Rocstar is right. Would you really drop "who" in this sentence?

    The man who lives next to me is friendly.
     

    Harry Batt

    Senior Member
    USA English
    Well, I just need to break in here with, perhaps, some Midwestern explanation. Many English courses provide material which forces students to learn English on a "correct" or "incorrect" basis. English has another dimension which is "acceptable" and "unacceptable." It is for this reason that many students bring questions to this forum only to learn that what their book says is incorrect is often acceptable. We like to call those usages "idiomatic" which means that they are used despite the grammatical rules. In the case here, that, which and whom can be omitted in certain contexts. However, if you want to be safe, it is better to use them. I use them in writing as a native English speaker. In my taste it looks better. Sometimes I omit them and use the idiomatic spoken version simply because it sounds okay. In some cases, there is an absolute rule which requires the use of that, which and whom. Subject/verb which Rocstar posted is one such absolute rule.
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Well, I have an American English course (Longman) and they clearly state that (that, which, and whom) CANNOT be omitted when they occur as objects.
    [...]
    Actually the book doesn't say "objects." It says, literaly "an adjective clause can only be reduced if the connector is also a subject."

    Then it mentions that sentence up there, amongst others, as an example of unreducable clause.

    It is funny that you people believe so, while this course maybe the number one TOEFL preparation course. It appears that TOEFL examinees are being faulted for perfectly correct answers.
    Hani:
    It is difficult for us to respond helpfully when you paraphrase or mis-quote the original text.
    Are you sure you are interpreting it correctly?

    Let me repeat the original sentence, in which I am sure that "The letter" and its modifying clause are part of the subject, not the object:
    The letter (that) you sent me arrived yesterday.

    Are you sure that the textbook says this sentence is irreducible?
    No one here agrees.
     

    Hani_D

    Banned
    Arabic
    Subject/verb which Rocstar posted is one such absolute rule.
    Here you disagree again with the Longman course.

    Anyway, this not an English issue. Mnay languages have formulas or expressions that deviate from the rules of grammer. In Arabic, for example, we still use these phrases but we don't call them "correct." This may be the difference.
     

    Hani_D

    Banned
    Arabic
    Hani:
    It is difficult for us to respond helpfully when you paraphrase or mis-quote the original text.
    Are you sure you are interpreting it correctly?

    Let me repeat the original sentence, in which I am sure that "The letter" and its modifying clause are part of the subject, not the object:
    The letter (that) you sent me arrived yesterday.

    Are you sure that the textbook says this sentence is irreducible?
    No one here agrees.
    Why don't you just go learn how to tell a subject from an object.
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Hi Hani D: ......................Subject/Verb
    Look carefully:....... The man who lives next to me is friendly.
    ...........................The man that lives next to me is friendly. In both cases you can't drop who or that.
    Next case is different:
    ............................Object/Subj/Verb
    ...................The man whom I met was friendly.
    ..................The man that I met was friendly.
    You can drop them: The man I met was friendly.
    I hope it helps!
    Rocstar
    Actually it's the absolute opposite :)

    The first two senteces are reducable, the second two are not!
    Here you disagree again with the Longman course.

    Anyway, this not an English issue. Mnay languages have formulas or expressions that deviate from the rules of grammer. In Arabic, for example, we still use these phrases but we don't call them "correct." This may be the difference.
    I am convinced, now, that you are misinterpreting the Longman course.
    Rocstar's post is correct.
    It is not possible to omit the red words in rocstar's post above.
    It is possible to omit the blue words.
     

    Hani_D

    Banned
    Arabic
    #2 I bought a book that my sister recommended.

    Core sentence I bought a book.

    Sentence that became the relative clause My sister recommended the book.

    Relative Pronoun Function direct object of the relative clause

    Location of the relative clause it's at the end of the sentence--attached to the noun that's the direct object--part of the large noun phrase that is the direct object
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    The letter (that) you sent me arrived yesterday.

    Now let's see what the link you offered has to say about sentences like this.
    Relative Pronoun Reduction
    Relative pronouns can sometimes be left out; they are understood but not given in the sentence as in the following examples:
    [...] The book my sister recommended was quite useful.
    That looks like a perfect match.
     

    Hani_D

    Banned
    Arabic
    I don't understand the way things are going here. A "moderator" acuses me of lying in my extraction form a book. Although he clearly knows nothing about this subject. (and the object)

    He removed my response to a personal insult but he kept it.

    This kinda reminds me of primary school fellows.
     

    Hani_D

    Banned
    Arabic
    The letter (that) you sent me arrived yesterday.

    Now let's see what the link you offered has to say about sentences like this.That looks like a perfect match.
    Well this would be a problem between them and the Longman people. What wouldn't be there any problem about is how to tell a subject from an object.

    The Longman course information:

    ISBN 0-201-84676-4
    Author: Phillips, Deborah

    2nd edition 1996

    Pages 123 through 125

    Unfortunately, scanning these pages is illegal.
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Hani:
    In response to your odd comment, I have "undeleted" your posts.
    May I remind you that I am posting as a normal forero here, not as a moderator.
    And may I also point out that I have not, in any post, accused you of lying.

    It would be most helpful if you were to respond to sensible and calm comments and questions in this thread - for example, in #25 and #30.
     

    rocstar

    Senior Member
    México - Español-
    Hi Hani D:
    I really hope that you can someday get what some of us here tried to explain.
    I thought that when I explained it in my first post, it was somehow beyond any doubts....for some reason that I don't know you are still very confused.
    Peace to all.
    Rocstar.
     

    Hani_D

    Banned
    Arabic
    The letter (that) you sent me arrived yesterday.


    Would you care to answer the question rather than resort to personal insult?

    What is the subject in this sentence?

    The letter which you sent me arrived yesterday.

    Core sentence: The letter arrived yesterday

    Sentence that became the relative clause: you sent me the letter

    Relative Pronoun Function: direct object of the relative clause
     

    Harry Batt

    Senior Member
    USA English
    Hani, what about using that, which and whom which is that way whom wants to be safe doesn't have to worry about whether or not that, which and whom ought to be eliminated? I don't know a subject from an object half the time, but do try to give credibility the posts of myself and some of the other English speakers who have offered assistance to your question.
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    The letter which you sent me arrived yesterday.

    Core sentence: The letter arrived yesterday

    Sentence that became the relative clause: you sent me the letter

    Relative Pronoun Function: direct object of the relative clause
    1. You have changed the sentence.
    2. You have not answered the question.
    3. You have not responded to the points raised in #25 and #30.
    4. Further conversation on this thread is completely pointless, unless you address the original topic. The original sentence is correct and unambiguous. This is supported by the link you kindly provided in #27.

    The letter you sent me arrived yesterday.
     

    Hani_D

    Banned
    Arabic
    Hani, what about using that, which and whom which is that way whom wants to be safe doesn't have to worry about whether or not that, which and whom ought to be eliminated? I don't know a subject from an object half the time, but do try to give credibility the posts of myself and some of the other English speakers who have offered assistance to your question.
    Harry Batt, I agree with you. Your posts were helpful and I was convinced by them and this why I didn't respond right away, in the presence of the other posts. Thank you for your assistance.

    I really don't have any personal opinion on this issue, I just relayed what I found in an English book. Your reply was sensible, but the others (who happened to be non natives) embarked on teaching me some stuff that are literal contradictions to what is in that book, and which are clearly false.
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    [...]
    I really don't have any personal opinion on this issue, I just relayed what I found in an English book. Your reply was sensible, but the others (who happened to be non natives) embarked on teaching me some stuff that are literal contradictions to what is in that book, and which are clearly false.
    Curiosity provokes me.
    Who were those non-native others?
    What did they say that is clearly false?
     

    Hani_D

    Banned
    Arabic
    1. You have changed the sentence.
    2. You have not answered the question.
    3. You have not responded to the points raised in #25 and #30.
    4. Further conversation on this thread is completely pointless, unless you address the original topic. The original sentence is correct and unambiguous. This is supported by the link you kindly provided in #27.

    The letter you sent me arrived yesterday.
    Well, let me do for you something that young Arab students do at schools, it's like a break out of the sentence:

    The letter that you sent me arrived yesterday

    The letter: Subject of the core sentence.
    that (or which!): Direct object (accusative) of "sent."
    you : Subject of the relative clause.
    sent: Verb of the the relative clause.
    me : Indirect object (dative) of "sent."
    arrived: Verb of the core sentence.
    yesterday: adverb of the core sentence.

    This is very important in Arabic because we use it to choose between different declensions :)
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Thank you.
    Now that we agree on what is the subject of the sentence - can you explain to me, with references, why the topic sentence is not correct?
    The letter you sent me arrived yesterday.
     

    Hani_D

    Banned
    Arabic
    Curiosity provokes me.
    Who were those non-native others?
    What did they say that is clearly false?
    Well, you may be not of the non-natives, but you certainly have siad something false, actually it was big time false. You denied that (that) was an object, I wanted to avoid this discussion so I put the literal words of the book. However, you used this to say that I am confusing the text and blah blah... although it is clear that the whole confusion is on your side, not mine.
     

    Hani_D

    Banned
    Arabic
    Thank you.
    Now that we agree on what is the subject of the sentence - can you explain to me, with references, why the topic sentence is not correct?
    The letter you sent me arrived yesterday.
    Can you show me where did I say that it was incorrect?!
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Hello,

    What do you think about the following sentence:

    The letter you sent me arrived yesterday.

    Is it correct?

    Thanks,
    Can you show me where did I say that it was incorrect?!
    Well, I have an American English course (Longman) and they clearly state that (that, which, and whom) CANNOT be omitted when they occur as objects.

    The sentence up there was their example of an incorrect sentence. I've been observing this rule for years, although I hear it breached all the time. [...]
    Actually the book doesn't say "objects." It says, literaly "an adjective clause can only be reduced if the connector is also a subject."

    Then it mentions that sentence up there, amongst others, as an example of unreducable clause.

    It is funny that you people believe so, while this course maybe the number one TOEFL preparation course. It appears that TOEFL examinees are being faulted for perfectly correct answers.
    The native speakers amongst us are confident that the bold sentence is correct.
    Hani is asserting, and citing Longman in support, that the bold sentence is not correct.
     

    JamesM

    Senior Member
    Hi Hani D: ......................Subject/Verb
    Look carefully:....... The man who lives next to me is friendly.
    ...........................The man that lives next to me is friendly. In both cases you can't drop who or that.
    Next case is different:
    ............................Object/Subj/Verb
    ...................The man whom I met was friendly.
    ..................The man that I met was friendly.
    You can drop them: The man I met was friendly.
    I hope it helps!
    Rocstar
    Actually it's the absolute opposite :)

    The first two senteces are reducable, the second two are not!

    This is definitely wrong.

    It is not correct to say:

    "The man lives next to me is friendly."


    I agree with the others that the second two are reducible.
     

    kenny4528

    Senior Member
    Mandarin, Taiwan
    Well, I have an American English course (Longman) and they clearly state that (that, which, and whom) CANNOT be omitted when they occur as objects.
    As a non-native, I can't find what's wrong with the original sentence. I myself have used Longman dictionary for a long time, but its usage is not always applicable in real English-speaking world.

    By the way, your quote didn't list on my Longman dictionary.
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    Actually the book doesn't say "objects." It says, literaly "an adjective clause can only be reduced if the connector is also a subject."

    Then it mentions that sentence up there, amongst others, as an example of unreducable clause.
    Hani_D, I haven't got access to the Longman text, but could the section you quote relate to the reduction of an adjective (relative) clause to a participle; and not to when you can simply drop which, that etc in a relative clause?

    The quote makes sense if it is arguing that you can only reduce a clause to a participle if the 'relative particle' in it is the subject of the verb in the relative clause.

    So:

    (1) reducing to participle (who/which/that needs to be subject of subordinate clause)

    The man who was writing the letter forgot to send it.
    :arrow: :tick:the man writing the letter forgot to send it.
    The letter which was written by John was forgotten.
    :arrow: :tick:the letter written by John was forgotten.

    In contrast, when you're talking about simply dropping who(m), which, that, you can only do so if who(m), which, that is not the subject of the verb in the relative clause (as the link you gave earlier made clear):

    (2) dropping who(m)/which/that (who(m)/which/that cannot be subject of subordinate clause)

    The letter which/that you sent me arrived yesterday.
    :arrow: :tick:the letter you sent me arrived yesterday.

    Two types of 'reduction', two different rules!

    Loob
     

    Mat300

    Banned
    English
    This is the whole thing from the Longman book:

    <<Excess quoted text deleted>>

    It should be noted that not all adjective clauses can appear in a reduced form. An adjective clause can appear in a reduced form only if the adjective clause connector is followed directly by a verb. In other words, an adjective clause can only be reduced if the connector is also a subject.

    The woman that I just met is the tour guide. (does not reduce)
    The letter which you sent me arrived yesterday. (does not reduce)
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    This is the whole thing from the Longman book:

    <<Excess quoted text deleted>>

    It should be noted that not all adjective clauses can appear in a reduced form. An adjective clause can appear in a reduced form only if the adjective clause connector is followed directly by a verb. In other words, an adjective clause can only be reduced if the connector is also a subject.

    The woman that I just met is the tour guide. (does not reduce)
    The letter which you sent me arrived yesterday. (does not reduce)
    Panj

    Did the now-deleted excess text shed any light on what "in a reduced form" means?

    Loob
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    This is very odd indeed.
    Both of those sentences are reducible, according to normal usage and indeed according to various sources.
    If I'm interpreting it correctly, the quoted text suggests that the following sentence is reducible because the connector is the subject is followed directly by a verb and because the connector is the subject of the relative clause.
    The letter (that) brought the news of Bill's engagement arrived yesterday.

    Surely that can't be right?
    Though it is consistent with earlier comments about rocstar's post #10.

    Either the quoted text is incorrect, it is being applied inappropriately, or it is being misunderstood.

    The letter (which) you sent me arrived yesterday.

    The subject of the sentence is The letter.
    The relative clause is which you sent me.
    It is a defining relative clause, else it would be separated from the main sentence by commas.
    Within the relative clause, the relative pronoun which is the object of the verb sent.

    According to the Longman text as quoted and interpreted in this thread, the relative pronoun cannot therefore be omitted.
    There are, as I said earlier, other sources with the opposite view (apart from the native speakers in this thread). Here follow some of them:
    The relative pronoun can be omitted (ø) when it is the object of the clause: The mouse that the elephant loved was very beautiful.
    OR The mouse the elephant loved was very beautiful.

    Both of these sentences are correct, though the second one is more common in spoken English.
    Source
    Marked examples. Note especially #4.

    When the pronoun is the object of the relative clause. In the following sentences the pronoun that can be left out is enclosed in (brackets):
    ...
    Where's the pencil (which) I gave you yesterday?
    Source
    (Edit - the "reduced form" in this case seems to be without the relative pronoun.)
     
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