Writing Academic English

According to this book, the first two highlighted sentences, to avoid confusion, an adjective clause should follow its antecedent, but there are some occasion that some words may come between the antecedent and the adjective clause.

I wonder on what occasion can we insert words between an adjective clause and antecedent. Is it proper to write in this way?

Thank you!

Thank you!

  • I don't know what book you are using, but it's way out of line with modern thinking. Calling relative clauses 'adjective clauses' is simply wrong, and frankly ridiculous. What is the name of this dreadful book? – BillJ Dec 3 '17 at 8:42
  • Writing Academic English fourth edition – Jasmine Kuo Dec 3 '17 at 12:13
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    Setting aside the issue of nomenclature, the advice in the book is sound. BillJ is over-the-top in calling the book "dreadful". – Tᴚoɯɐuo Dec 3 '17 at 13:35
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    @JasmineKuo BillJ is putting forth a "modern" concept of grammar, which has "new" ways of thinking about how words are put together. There are always people in the world who make themselves familiar with a particular line of thinking, and then put down every line of thinking that disagrees with it. It would seem that our BillJ is one of these. I wouldn't say anything about it, but I don't think he's helping you by disparaging the book you're working with, which I'm sure is fine. Here's a page that summarizes the more standard way of thinking. – BobRodes Dec 3 '17 at 21:22
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    Should I show such a person to the door that tries to tell me relative clauses are adjective clauses? Or should I show to the door a person that tries to tell me relative clauses are adjective clauses? – Tᴚoɯɐuo Dec 3 '17 at 21:58

The simple answer is that you can place the clause anywhere that avoids ambiguity.

The example that your book gives, where the placement changes the meaning, is a good one:

He left the gift that he had just bought in a friend's car.
He left the gift in a friend's car that he had just bought.

Since you can buy a car, and you can buy a gift, where you place the clause determines what it is that he bought. In the first sentence, he bought a gift; in the second sentence, he bought a car.

Now, both of these sentences are clear and have the same basic meaning:

A friend of mine at the University of Toronto, who is majoring in electrical engineering, received a government grant.
A friend of mine, who is majoring in electrical engineering at the University of Toronto, received a government grant.

The reason this works is that in effect you have two adjectival clauses, both modifying the antecedent. This is clear when you reword the sentence a bit:

A friend of mine, who is at the University of Toronto, and who is majoring in electrical engineering, received a government grant.

If you have two clauses modifying the same antecedent, either one can go first.


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