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He wasn't much aware of the dangers of the acid, though I had already taught him about it, which consequently brought an end to his life.

As you see, the context clearly tells "which" is referring to "He wasn't much aware ... the acid", but I just heard from a native speaker that "which" must be placed right after what "which" is referring to, so the sentence is not grammatically correct, but I wouldn't agree with him, because even if "which" is not placed close to what "which" refers to, it's already obvious by context that "which" refers to "He wasn't ~ acid".

I want to hear your opinions.

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First of all, a pronoun can refer to something anywhere. The farther removed the pronoun is from its referent, the more difficult it is to understand what it's actually referring to. But that's more a matter of style and interpretation than anything essential.

For instance:

The girls played after school. The school was a red brick building. It had a big playground. It also had lots of grass. They liked to play there.

Upon encountering they, you can read backwards. The only noun they could be referencing is the girls. All other nouns are singular objects to which they could not apply.

This construction is a bit awkward. By the time they is used, three entire sentences have passed, and it may take a bit of thought to back up and apply it to the noun at the start of the passage, assuming you haven't kept the girls in your mind from the start to the finish.

The same could be done with which:

There were two presents on the table. Bob wasn't good with decisions. Which he would open first wasn't clear.


As for the sentence in the question, it's constructed with parenthetical information—which is information that is nonessential in terms of the syntax.

The earlier discussion about pronoun placement aside, it actually doesn't violate the common convention (but not hard-and-fast rule) that which should come immediately after what it refers to.

The sentence would look like the following with the parenthetical information isolated:

He wasn't much aware of the dangers of the acid, though I had already taught him about it, which consequently brought an end to his life.

Or its meaning could be expressed with parentheses instead of paired commas:

He wasn't much aware of the dangers of the acid (though I had already taught him about it), which consequently brought an end to his life.

When parsing the sentence, the parenthetical information is read—but then mentally deleted when joining the part of the sentence immediately before it with the part of the sentence immediately after it.


In short, with the parenthetical information removed, which is how it would be parsed for the purpose of this question, the following is what remains:

He wasn't much aware of the dangers of the acid, which consequently brought an end to his life.

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  • Hi bassford. Just out of curiosity, are you a native speaker of Canadian English?
    – GKK
    Jun 12, 2021 at 4:28

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