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His reputation largely rests on his role as a founder and guiding spirit of EPW, the series of essays and monographs launched in 1882 that took up the critique of the modern state.

What does "That" refer to? the antecedent 1882 or the series? please explain the structure of the sentence?

  • "That" is a subordinator introducing the relative clause "that took up the critique of the modern state". The wh word is omitted here and represented by 'gap' which has "series of essays and monographs" as antecedent. We would diagram the noun phrase like this "... the series of essays and monographs launched in 1882 that __ took up the critique of the modern state". – BillJ Oct 19 '17 at 8:05
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that is referring to " the series of essays... in 1882". Typically when there is a noun followed by a 'that -describing something-', then it is describing what just came before it in the sentence.

This means that EPW were a series of essays and monographs and they 'took up the critique of the modern state'

The word 'series' is the antecedent of the word 'that'

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  • His reputation largely rests on his role as a founder and guiding spirit of EPW, the series of essays and monographs presented in the seminar that took up the critique of the modern state. If I replace 1882 with "presented in a seminar" does the rule remain same? I mean, that refers to "the series...seminar." – Arkaprava Bose Oct 19 '17 at 13:14
  • "That" is not anaphoric, but merely a subordinator. The wh relative word is missing (as happens in that relatives, and is represented by the 'gap' notation "___" which is anaphoric to "series" (or the nominal "series of essays and monographs"): i.e. "... the series of essays and monographs launched in 1882 that __ took up the critique of the modern state". – BillJ Oct 19 '17 at 13:32
  • @ArkapravaBose It's important to understand that the word "that" is simply a subordinator, not a relative pronoun, and hence it is not anaphoric to an antecedent. It's a common error amongst learners, but worth taking on board if you want to understand the syntax of relative clauses properly. – BillJ Oct 19 '17 at 13:43

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