I just studied about relative clauses and I know that they should tell us which person or thing the speaker means. So when I'm in a conference and a woman is speaking can I ask my friend

"Do you know that woman who is speaking?"

or should I say

"Do you know that woman speaking?"

or when someone is talking to my friend Tom can I ask my friend

"Do you know the woman who is talking to Tom?"

or should I say

"Do you know the woman talking to Tom?"

and why? When should I use relative clause and when -ing and -ed phrases?

  • 1
    Preliminary point: The -ing and -ed expressions that you refer to are not phrases but non-finite clauses. That aside, it's largely a free choice, though in many instances the non-finite clause alternant is more elegant and often preferred.
    – BillJ
    Dec 26, 2018 at 17:04
  • In addition to BillJ's guidance, there are contexts where the meaning between the two constructions differs, as in: Did you hear the the trumpeter playing the solo? and Did you hear the trumpeter who is playing the solo? Dec 26, 2018 at 23:51
  • 'talking to Tom' is a reduced clause. It can also be said a Non-finite clause. You can find more info by searching Reduced clause.
    – RADS
    Apr 13, 2021 at 8:56

1 Answer 1


They both work. Adding the "who is", which is usually contracted to "who's", sounds slightly better to me, but omitting it is perfectly functional.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .