2

I know the sentences:

He is believed to be dead.

I believe (that) she is the right person.

He is the man believed to deserve that title.

But when I want to say “the man I believe”, I don’t know whether it’s right or not:

He is the man I believe to deserve that title.

Is the above sentence correct?

  • Your final example He is the man I believe to deserve that title is syntactically valid (and may have been more common a century or two ago), but it sounds more than a bit stilted to me. More natural today would be He is the man [who / that] I believe deserves that title. – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Oct 6 '18 at 14:36
  • @FumbleFingers can it be this way?: he is the man I believe that deserves that title. – user67265 Oct 6 '18 at 14:45
  • Shakespeare put the relativiser that after the (optional, parenthetical) I believe / think element in King Richard III - I am joyful to hear of their readiness, and am the man, I think, that shall set them in present action, so yeah - you can do such things. But some might think it's a little "awkward". – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Oct 6 '18 at 15:01
  • @user67265 "He is the man I believe that deserves that title" - that is a grammatical sentence, but it means something different. It might be better with a comma after "believe." The meaning is "He is the man [that] I believe, and he is the man that deserves that title" ("that title" must refer to something mentioned earlier). In the original sentences, you don't believe the man (i.e. you think that "what the man says is true", or something similar to that meaning) - you believe that he deserves the title. – alephzero Oct 6 '18 at 19:23
3

He is the man I believe to deserve that title. or
He is the man I believe deserves that title.

These are both entirely proper. They are restrictive relative clauses from which the relativizer whom has been omitted, which is permitted if the relativizer does not represent the subject of the relative clause.

He is the man (whom) I believe to deserve that title. or
He is the man (whom) I believe deserves that title.

  • I thought I'd run up this NGram to show that who is increasingly replacing whom in such contexts. But (according to Google Books, at least) it isn't. Except if I replace the infinitive marker to with an "active" verb such as the man who[m] I believe is [whatever he is]. Dunno if that supports my perception that the infinitive form is "stilted / dated" or not. – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Oct 6 '18 at 14:51
  • I find it hard to swallow in your second sentence. Your first translates to: I believe him (whom) to deserve that title. It sounds grammatically okay to me. But your second translates to: I believe the man deserves that title. It seems like “the man” is the subject, not object. – user67265 Oct 6 '18 at 14:56
  • @user67265 StoneyB is right. In neither example is the covert relative word the subject of the relative clause. The subject is "I". In the first (assuming that the title has already been awarded) it is the 'raised' object of "believe" and the semantic, i.e. understood subject of "deserve". And in the second it is simply the subject of the embedded "deserves" clause. – BillJ Oct 6 '18 at 17:27

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