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We have many rooms / in our house; / several of which / have not been in use for years.

Is the which used in above sentence correct? I doubt so because which is a relative pronoun and as per my knowledge it relates to the noun which precedes it which in above sentence is house and Hence it seems incorrect to me as it should be related to rooms.

If it is incorrect How do I correct it? Will replacing which with them work?

  • No, it is not incorrect. It is a little unusual to use a semicolon (a comma would be more common) but it is not wrong. The element after the semicolon is an independent clause functioning as a supplementary (non-restrictive) relative clause. – BillJ Nov 22 '17 at 15:28
1
 We have many rooms  /  in our house;  /  several of which  /
         (A)                 (B)                 (C)

 have not been in use for years.  /  (no error)
               (D)                      (E)

At a glance, this looks like a poorly phrased test question.  Where does the error lie? 

If we replace the semicolon with a comma, the result is a grammatically correct sentence: 

We have many rooms in our house, several of which have not been in use for years. 

On the other hand, if we replace the relative "which" with the personal "them", the result is a different yet still grammatically correct sentence: 

We have many rooms in our house; several of them have not been in use for years. 

The error doesn't lie just with the semicolon or just with the relative pronoun.  The error lies with the way that these two things, each in its own section of the model, aren't playing nicely with each other in this sentence. 

It is quite possible that the instructions for this section of the exercise make the expected answer clear and unambiguous.  It's even possible that the ambiguity is intentional.  We simply don't know.  We've only seen the question's model.  We haven't seen the question's instructions or its answer key. 

 

Yes, we usually expect the relative clause to reference the closest nominative structure.  However, there are three such structures that end in the same place: 

 We have many rooms in our house |
         many rooms in our house |
                       our house |

Since there's no difference in the distances involved, you'll need to choose your referent based on what makes sense (which, ideally, is what you would do anyway): 

We have many rooms in our house, which makes it a good investment. 
We have many rooms in our house, several of which haven't been used in years. 
We have many rooms in our house, which is on the corner of Douglas and Fir. 

  • There is NO error in the punctuation. It is a perfectly good sentence, with a non-restrictive relative clause whose relative pronoun is governed by a preposition. – Colin Fine Nov 21 '17 at 22:42
  • Dude, look again: Semicolon. That perfectly good non-restrictive relative clause is not independent, nor is it an item in a list that has internal commas. No error in the punctuation? Rather, no excuse for the punctuation. You can't justify this semicolon unless you first transform the dependent clause to an independent. Easier to justify fragments. – Gary Botnovcan Nov 22 '17 at 0:46
  • Not so. Supplementary (non-restrictive) relative clauses can certainly constitute a separate sentence. Compare: A: Our rent is due next week. B: Which is why we shouldn't be going out to dinner tonight. B's response is an independent clause, but nonetheless relative, as evident from the fact that "which" has the entire preceding clause as its semantic anchor. – BillJ Nov 22 '17 at 9:25
  • Easier to justify fragments. Hadn't I just said that? – Gary Botnovcan Nov 22 '17 at 14:13
  • I beg your pardon, @GaryBotnovcan: I misread it, and thought they had a comma and you were calling for a semicolon. I agree with BillJ that a semicolon is possible, but I agree with you that a comma is better. – Colin Fine Nov 22 '17 at 15:44

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