In this sentence, "someone like you who is..." , 'someone' is the antecedent of relative pronoun, 'who' .

But can you explain why 'you' cannot be the antecedent of the relative pronoun, 'who' ?


Because the antecedent is "someone"; it's not you. Here's one wherein the antecedent is different:

One of the men who were at church last night is here to see you.

  • Thank you very much. But I'm still thinking there might be a clear solution to figure out when facing two possible antecedents (someone and you above, you may not agree with) which one we should choose as the antecedent of the relative pronoun. – Seungbeom Oct 25 '17 at 3:59
  • I don't think you can do it with "someone like". The antecedent is always going to be "someone" because the preposition "like" is just comparing the object "you" to "someone"; however, "you" are not an integral part of the sentence. – Nick Oct 25 '17 at 4:03
  • Ah! Great! Thanks again for your considerate answer. – Seungbeom Oct 25 '17 at 6:02

In theory, an ambiguity could arise.

We could write a sentence such as "I am looking for someone, like David" (i.e. like David is) or "I am looking for someone, like David, who has been looking for a long time now".

If the noun or pronoun after "like" is the subject of what follows, there should be a comma before "like" (as in my examples), but not everyone is fastidious about comma use.

In your expression "someone like you who is", it could be argued that, if "you" were the subject, the verb should be "are". But this rule isn't always followed after "who" in informal English. Many speakers would probably find "It's you who's responsible" just as acceptable as "It's you who are responsible".

Still, in an expression such as "someone like X who is ...", there is a strong presumption in favour of "someone" being the antecedent of "who" - unless there is a comma to suggest otherwise.

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