Children and spouses of people who prefer music that was popular twenty years ago are idiots.

Here the pronoun who refers to what? Is it children and spouses of "people who prefer music that was popular...." are idiots? How should i break the sentence. The who is referring to children and spouses or is it "people who.."?

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    The who is referring to the people who like old music, otherwise including "of people" is pointless. The idiots refers to the "children and spouses". So the sentence makes no sense, because it is not they who like that music. Feb 26, 2019 at 18:20
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    Syntactically, the referent of who is ambiguous. It's just that logically we wouldn't expect the speaker to be talking about children who like "outdated" music, given there aren't many of them. Since he's obviously a bit of a bigot himself, we can probably assume he thinks [all] children and [some] adults (specifically, those adults married to someone whose musical tastes haven't changed since they were children) are idiots. Feb 26, 2019 at 18:26

1 Answer 1


"Who prefer music that was popular twenty years ago" is a clause referring back to the nearest preceding noun, "people". So this sentence is saying that children and spouses of those people are idiots.

If the sentence was worded poorly and the author really intended the music preference to apply to the children and spouses, he should have written, "Children and spouses who prefer music that was popular twenty years ago ...". In that case, "of people" would be unnecessary since if you are a spouse, of course you are a spouse of someone.

Either way, this sentence has some serious problems. Hopefully its author meant to say something else.

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