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Money can be exchanged for goods or services that fulfill people’s needs and wants which in turn bring happiness.

Is the usage of "which in turn" correct in this sentence?

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3 Answers 3

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The sentence is grammatically correct, and its meaning is clear. The usage of "which in turn" is fine.

Basically, the sentence has three clauses.

Money can be exchanged for goods or services [ that fulfill people’s needs and wants ] [ which in turn bring happiness ].

a) Money can be exchanged for goods or services.
b) (that = Goods or services) fulfill people’s needs and wants.
c) (which = Such goods or services) in turn bring happiness.

The phase in turn is used in the sense of "it follows that" (or "as a result of things in the series of events"). In a sense, you can think of "in turn" as something that describes events that each of them takes turn to happen. Here is its definition by Macmillan:

in turn
1 one after the other in an order that has been agreed or officially decided
  We look at each element of the process in turn.

2 as a result of something that is part of a connected series of events
  The oil-producing nations have decreased production, and this decision in turn has caused heating oil prices to rise in the United States.
  Her mother taught her, and she in turn taught her own daughter.

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  • Does "which" refer to the entire previous NP: c) (which = goods or services that fulfill people's needs and wants) ? Commented Apr 27, 2014 at 5:13
  • @CoolHandLouis We can read it that way if we'd like, but it's not necessary because by the time we reached "which", we already knew which "goods or services" the text referred to. Commented Apr 27, 2014 at 8:09
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The words are fine; I would prefer some commas, though I'm not sure they are, strictly speaking, necessary.

Money can be exchanged for goods or services that fulfill people’s needs and wants, which in turn bring happiness.

Money can be exchanged for goods or services that fulfill people’s needs and wants, which, in turn, bring happiness.

It is potentially ambiguous whether is the goods and services bringing happiness, or the needs and wants.

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The word "which" is ambiguous, it could mean any of the following
a) Money
b) Goods or services
c) Fulfilling people’s needs and wants
which could all in turn bring happiness.

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