I found the following information at https://www.thoughtco.com/reduced-relative-clauses-1211107

I gave a book which was written by Hemingway to Mary last week.

The second example sentence cannot be reduced because the relative clause "which was written by Hemingway" modifies an object of the verb 'give'.

However, I found the following information with some examples at the following site http://esl.fis.edu/grammar/rules/relative.htm

When the relative clause contains a present or past participle and the auxiliary verb "to be", in such cases both the relative pronoun and auxiliary can be left out:

Here, the following example appears to contradict with what is mentioned at the former site:

She was wearing a dress (which was) covered in blue flowers.

I want to know which one out of the above two is correct.

  • 1
    You can 'reduce' it. I don't see how the rule given by thoughtco works. Commented Aug 28, 2017 at 12:18
  • 2
    The claim at thoughtco.com, "Reduced relative clauses can modify the subject NOT the object of a sentence", is quite false. Abandon this site. Commented Aug 28, 2017 at 12:18
  • 1
    My advice to you is to forget the term, 'reduced relative clause'. In your example, "covered in flowers" is a past-participial clause modifying "dress". Past-participials (and gerund-participials) are semantically similar to the relative clauses (cf. "which was covered in blue flowers", but they are not analysed as relative clauses because there is no possibility of them containing a relative phrase (cf, *a dress which covered in blue flowers").
    – BillJ
    Commented Aug 28, 2017 at 12:19
  • @BillJ I think you have made a typing mistake: "relative phrase". Do you mean "relative clause" here? Commented Aug 29, 2017 at 9:54
  • BillJ makes the point that a reduced relative clause omits just the relative pronoun (and only when the object is traced), not the pronoun and the aux verb (when the subject is traced). It is deeply connected to a relative clause, but it would deserve a different name ('doubly reduced'?).
    – amI
    Commented Nov 25, 2018 at 19:29

1 Answer 1


I gave a book written by Hemingway to Mary.

In the above, a book and Mary are really the focus of your sentence.

If you really want to stress Hemingway, make an extra information clause:

I gave a book, which was written by Hemingway, to Mary.

She was wearing a dress covered in blue flowers.

If you want to stress the blue flowers, it's extra information:

She was wearing a dress, which was covered in blue flowers!

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .