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I'll appreciate it if a native speaker to especially American English would tell me how you feel and write.

  1. This is the only word (that) I know which[that] explains the situation. (A grammar book)

  2. Thus, things you typically encounter that might not usually trigger fear now do so. (This seems to be from a grammar site)

  3. Note that the conjunction (the second that) is usually dropped in this structure; it must be dropped if the relative pronoun is a subject.
    This is the woman (who/that) Ann said could show us the church.
    (M. Swan, Practical English Usage, 498.15)

After reading M. Swan's, I think (1) should omit the second relative pronoun.

(2) might be correct with the second relative pronoun because the first relative clause is hard to consider as an inserted clause. This is the case of stacking of relative clause, but (1) isn't. (1) is the case with an inserted clause. Am I correct?

  • I got it. So, they are different. 'I know which/that' of #1 is a relative clause, but 'Ann said' of #3 is the main clause of the embedded relative clause. – karlalou Jun 14 '18 at 5:26
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(1) The clearest and correct way to express this statement is: This is the only word I know that explains the situation. An inserted clause is one set off by commas. In that case, you would write: this is the only word, that I know, that explains the situation. Neither that could be removed in that case. (2)Again, not an inserted clause. It is an essential relative clause. The statement is correct as written.

  • Thank you! I think that is the most logical way to think about it, but sadly the way that is spread most world-wide is what M. Swan says. Correct? Oh.. I remembered now that the even the first grammar book explains in the next section that with 'I think' or 'I hear' or 'I remember,' it considers as an inserted clause and they won't be followed by a relative pronoun but followed by a verb or the equivalent. This grammar book is just differentiating 'know' and I find it's ridiculous. I see it's a confusion, but it's a relief to hear what a native speaker thinks. Thanks again. :) – karlalou Jun 10 '18 at 2:22
  • I notice now that the style is seen in newscasting. See: The demise of the American Health Care Act played out in a tense 24 hours that White House and congressional officials said proved a political education for Trump and his top advisers on the promise and peril of governing, even with unified Republican control. (NY Times) And many native speakers including people from UK couldn't analyze the sentence. (Forum discussion: goo.gl/k4kMFM @ WordReference.com) I've seen tons of similar examples in news articles. – karlalou Jun 10 '18 at 2:37
  • @karlalou I see no problem with the sentence about the Health Care Act, other than its length. If you read it in parts, it’s a good sentence. I don’t see 2 relative pronouns or anything that could be considered an inserted clause. – Bob Jun 10 '18 at 2:57
  • Ah, you are correct. I see it's different from the other cases. The main verb is not the first verb, but 'proved' in here. [The demise of the American Health Care Act played out in a tense 24 hours] [that White House and congressional officials said] [proved a political education for Trump and his top advisers on the promise and peril of governing, even with unified Republican control.] Right? Oh, but now I see that the native speakers at the forum were seeing it as the case like explained by M. Swan above. – karlalou Jun 10 '18 at 3:50
  • I mean, they took "played out" as the main verb. – karlalou Jun 10 '18 at 3:56

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