2

1- The living room, the biggest room in the house, looks out on to a beautiful garden.

2- We will be rebaptizing you, my most loyal followers.

Can I rewrite them as in:

1a- The living room, which is the biggest room in the house, looks out on to a beautiful garden.

2a- We will be rebaptizing you, who are my most loyal followers


If I can write these versions above, why I can not use this sentence:

3a- It is such a weird feeling, which is to wear her jacket.

( 3- This versions is okay I suppose: "It is such a weird feeling, wearing her jacket" )

  • You're quite right that It is such a weird feeling, wearing her jacket is fine. So is He has such a weird desire / fetish, which is to wear her jacket. My first thought was maybe the reason your version doesn't work is simply a matter of semantics (not syntax as such). Now I'm thinking it's because in your first two examples the (non-restrictive, relative?) clauses refer back to a single noun (the living room, you), whereas in the third example you're trying to make it refer back to the entire (predicate?) is such a weird feeling, inclusive of a verb. – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Jul 29 '19 at 17:03
  • Thanks. In your own example, does "which is to wear her jacket" refer just "desire/fetish" or the whole clause? – Talha Özden Jul 29 '19 at 17:25
  • I think it just refers back to the noun. Note that His desire IS to wear her jacket sounds credible, but His feeling IS to wear her jacket doesn't really make sense at the semantic level. – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Jul 29 '19 at 18:13
3

Whether 3a is grammatical is dubious; it certainly is not idiomatic. 3 is grammatical and idiomatic.

It is hard to explain why 3a is not good English. I believe the most obvious explanation relates to the "it is" construction. As you know, a valid English sentence must have an explicit subject. For various reasons, it may be hard or inconvenient to find an explicit subject. In that case, we have three constructions that act as dummy subjects, namely "it is," "there is," and "there are," where "it" or "there" act grammatically as subjects without any concrete referent.

It is a weird feeling

is such a sentence. "It" refers to nothing concrete except possibly itself, and the sentence

A weird feeling is a weird feeling

is true, but hardly informative.

When you use the apposition, the "it" suddenly has a referent.

It is a weird feeling, wearing her jacket

means

Wearing her jacket feels weird.

The intended meaning of the first translates into a sentence where "it" is replaced by the gerund "wearing."

"Which is" does not directly refer back to "it" and so seems to be missing the point, namely to clarify what "it" refers to.

This explanation of why 3a is not idiomatic is a rationalization of the fact that 3a is not idiomatic. Whether the rationalization is correct or not does not alter the fact that 3a is not idiomatic.

This leads me to a point of style. "It is" and "there are" are very common contructions, but I try to avoid them in written English and use instead a concrete subject.

|improve this answer|||||
  • Thank you for great answer. I couldn't understand the structure of your one sentence: "... and so seems to be missing the point, namely to clarify what "it" refers to " I just can't understand how/why these two clauses are connected with a comma – Talha Özden Jul 29 '19 at 17:23
  • 1
    The phrase introduced by "namely" is itself in apposition. I could instead have said "missing the point, which is to clarify what 'it' refers to." – Jeff Morrow Jul 29 '19 at 17:51

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.