The following question is taken from a TV show, so this is spoken, colloquial English, but I've also seen instances of that grammatical construct in writing.

The scene in the TV show is as follows: a prisoner is being escorted to a prison truck, and right before entering the vehicle the prisoner turns to a female police officer present at the scene smiling. In the show this scene is caught by the surveillance cameras of the prison when later someone makes a reference to that very scene and asks,

"Why would an innocent man smile at the daughter of a man he took the fall for killing?"

The prisoner was convicted for having killed the officer's father. Then someone comes up with the theory that he might be innocent and took the fall for the person who killed that officer's father.

I am interested in the contact clause "he took the fall for killing" and therein especially the verb "to kill" in postposition and progressive form.

Is this just a shortening of "... of a man for whose killing he took the fall"? What's the grammatical rule here I would have to look up to find more examples of this?

3 Answers 3


You could more simply say ".. a man who he took the fall for killing". It not uncommon to leave out the conjunction at the start of an adjectival phrase, if it adds no additional meaning:

This giant furball is the tiny kitten (that) we adopted two years ago.

Did you drink the soda (that) I had been saving for the party?

She is the one (who) I told you about.

These are all the books (which) I referenced in my thesis.

That is the beach (where) I proposed to my wife.

All of the words in parentheses are optional, and often left out.


I haven't seen the show, but it appears to be poetic phrasing. Your "pre-shortened" version sounds grammatically complete and normal, but the show's phraseology sounds more dramatic.


They are using the idiom

"take the fall" - To bear the blame or punishment for a failure or a misdeed

immortalized in the ABBA song The Winner Takes It All

Your analysis of

... of a man for whose killing he took the fall

is correct since the person taking the fall is a "substitute" or "stand-in" for the actual person responsible.

The rule would be

took the fall for +ing
She took the fall for cheating

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