“The theatrical fools of the end of the sixteenth century were only one manifestation of a long tradition of fooling, more or less continuous since at least the Middle Ages, which evolved alongside the theater but was by no means dependent upon it”

Does which in "which evolved" refers to theatrical fools?

  • I totally agree with @stangdon; that's also how I read it, and for the same reasons.
    – flith
    Aug 20, 2016 at 11:25
  • 1
    If you are quoting something, please include a link to it. If you wrote this sentence yourself, please indicate that. Aug 20, 2016 at 13:15

1 Answer 1


Does which in "which evolved" refers to theatrical fools?

I think it almost certainly refers to a long tradition of fooling. The sentence structure here is "X was part of a Z, which Y." The part with which is a nonrestrictive modifying clause, which usually modifies the thing that it's closest to. Grammar aside, it makes more sense to say that a long tradition evolved than to say that the theatrical fools evolved.

  • 1
    Also, the theatrical fools would be dependent on the theater it seems to me. The tradition of fooling would not be dependent because "theatrical" fools are only one aspect of fooling.
    – ColleenV
    Aug 20, 2016 at 12:12
  • "Middle Ages" is close to the which in this case, why doesn't "which" refer to it?
    – HUN
    Aug 20, 2016 at 12:50
  • @HUN You can take out more or less continuous since at least the Middle Ages without greatly affecting the meaning and structure of the sentence. If you do, it is easier to see that which refers to long tradition of fooling. Aug 20, 2016 at 13:13
  • @HUN - That's true, and grammatically the which-clause could refer to the Middle Ages, but the sentence doesn't make much sense that way. The Middle Ages evolved alongside the theater? What?? Also, "the Middle Ages" is plural, so if it referred to them, it would have to say they were by no means dependent, not was.
    – stangdon
    Aug 20, 2016 at 13:59

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