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I wrote:

Considering this navigation direction, context variables can capture the hierarchical and sequential relations between two patterns, which in languages like XPath are explicitly shown using axis specifiers.

which actually points to the idea that mentioned in the previous clause context variables can capture hierarchical and sequential relations between two patterns.

First I would like to know if I used which correctly.

Second, I would like to know the alternatives, if better, for that like,

.... a feature that in languages like....

.... something that in languages like....

.... other common phrases...

This is another example:

I think it's because their entries reveal their passion for writing or using words, which in turn stimulates my own zeal for writing.

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  • Add your previous sentence to your question.
    – LawrenceC
    Sep 20, 2016 at 14:56
  • @LawrenceC I meant the previous clause, and mentioned it now.
    – Ahmad
    Sep 20, 2016 at 15:11
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    It is also possible to say "Considering this navigation direction, context variables can capture the hierarchical and sequential relations between two patterns, which relations are explicitly shown using axis specifiers in languages like XPath". The relative can be accompanied by the antecedent noun. If relations was not the antecedent, then your sentence is not clear to begin with.
    – TimR
    Sep 20, 2016 at 16:29
  • @tromano I added another example, maybe the bare which is the best option if there is no ambiguity.
    – Ahmad
    Sep 21, 2016 at 19:32
  • Unclear antecedent, Ahmad. What is it that stimulates your own zeal? The fact that they are passionate about writing? The fact their entries reveal their passion for writing?
    – TimR
    Sep 21, 2016 at 19:52

1 Answer 1

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Unfortunately a reader/listener will always first assume which goes back to the closest noun or noun phrase. So which will refer to "patterns" here.

But you can reword your sentence like this so which is pointing properly. You can also use double dashes to set off the phrase more clearly. Consider using parentheses to further set apart the phrase if this information is more of an "add-on" in nature than crucial to understanding what context variables can do.

Considering this navigation direction, context variables--which in languages like XPath are explicitly shown using axis specifiers--can capture the hierarchical and sequential relations between two patterns

or

Considering this navigation direction, context variables (which in languages like XPath are explicitly shown using axis specifiers) can capture the hierarchical and sequential relations between two patterns

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  • I modified the question title. I mean which points to the whole phrase, the concept or feature
    – Ahmad
    Sep 20, 2016 at 15:41
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    I do not understand you comment to LawrenceC, Ahmad. Your question is not at all clear. Where is this phrase you mention, "the concept or feature"?
    – TimR
    Sep 20, 2016 at 16:54
  • @tromano your comment on my question to use which relations almost works. I mean the whole phrase whatever you call it, feature, concept, task, thing... however it seems you mean I should always find a noun in antecedent clause, while I look for a pronoun for the whole phrase.
    – Ahmad
    Sep 20, 2016 at 20:30
  • No, you do not always need to find an antecedent noun; but if you're referring back to the idea, the statement in the relative clause must relate to the idea expressed in the prior clause. Here, you have "context variables can capture" being paralleled with "which...are shown". It doesn't work. The first clause is transitive, the second is passive. Also, the ideas of "capture" and "show" make little sense in relation. The idea is not clear.
    – TimR
    Sep 20, 2016 at 21:39
  • @TRomano thank you, I didn't notice this comment because I wasn't notified (needs @Ahmad). You mean such using of which is permitted but the two clauses should have almost the same structure and convey similar meaning.
    – Ahmad
    Sep 22, 2016 at 8:23

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