To mean "He is a friend of mine who I love" or "He is a friend of mine that I love", can I say "He is a friend of mine I love"? When I omit "who" or "that" in that sentence, it sounds wrong to me. I think I am not used to that structure. What do you think?

Note: I know (that) relative pronouns can be dropped like in "He is someone (that/who) I love", but in the sentence I gave, I think it is wrong to omit it because "a friend" was already modified by "of mine".

Context: I am talking about a friend, and I am saying I love him.


3 Answers 3


Whether you can or cannot omit who/which/that depends on the role that it plays in the sentence.

When it is the subject, you cannot drop it:

I know a guy who sings in a band.

I have a key that unlocks many doors.

But when the subject of the second clause follows who/which/that, then you can drop it.

Can you give back the book (which) my dad lent you last week?

Is it the film (that) everyone is talking about?

In your example, the subject in the second clause is I, so you can omit "that". It doesn't matter if you use a modifier for "my friend" or not.


According to the rules of English grammar, in that sort of situation, a relative pronoun is always required, so dropping the "who" or "that" is technically not grammatically correct. However, in terms of regular usage, that sort of omission is actually not uncommon, and I don't think would actually sound particularly strange to anyone.

So, if you are trying to be as correct as possible (for example, in formal writing, or when speaking to an English teacher, etc) it would probably be best not to leave it out, but in general conversation it is probably perfectly fine.

Note that your reasoning for why it is required is not quite correct. Technically it is also required even if you're just talking about "a friend". The "of mine" doesn't change things here. It just happens that it's very common for people to omit the pronoun in a short sentence like "He is a friend I love", but they will more often include it in a more complicated phrase such as "He is a friend of mine whom I love" (I suspect mostly because the longer phrase is more complex so more helper words can make things easier for the listener to sort it out, and also being a longer phrase already, the addition of one more word isn't as big a deal).

Note also that, technically, if you want to be grammatically correct, it should be "He is a friend of mine whom I love", not "who" (since the phrase before the pronoun is acting as the direct object of "I love", not the subject, the correct pronoun is "whom" (object)). Also note, however, that in reality almost nobody is pedantic enough to make that distinction anymore, and lots of people don't even know the difference...


He is a friend of mine who I love.


He is a friend of mine that I love.

Actually, both sentences contain the Misplaced Modifiers because who/that will modify the word "mine", not "a friend" or "my friend".

In academic writing, we accept the use of sentence like this.

He is my friend whom I love.

For better sentence:

He is a friend my honey.

We use the appositive "my honey" to modify "a friend".

So, I would recommend you to learn more in YouTube's Channel given by The Nature of Writing.

That's it.

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