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When can I skip the relative pronoun "which" in a sentence?

Let's take the following:

[...] Where along the long shore, which is full of white sands, the gloom of evening engulfs my heart.

In this sentence, if I remove the words "which is" and simply say "where along the long shore, full of white sands, the gloom of evening engulfs my heart" is it acceptable?

2 Answers 2

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Not only is the sentence grammatically acceptable without “which is”, it is arguably better in terms of narrative flow.

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  • What is the rule to include and exclude "which" in a sentence? Can you explain it to me?
    – Ammu
    Commented Feb 13, 2021 at 22:21
  • George said that it was 'arguably better' to omit which is, not that it would be wrong to include it. There is no rule, it's just a stylistic choice. Commented Feb 14, 2021 at 9:23
  • @Ammu In a different sentence, leaving out 'which is' might make it unclear as to what the following part (in this case 'full of white sands') might be referring to. Which technically would refer to the sentence's subject. For example, in the sentence "where I walked along the shore, full of white sand[..]". Here the subject is 'I' and leaving out 'which is' would indicate that I was full of white sand.
    – paddotk
    Commented Apr 9 at 14:41
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[...] Where along the long shore, which is full of white sands, the gloom of evening engulfs my heart.

That contains a non-essential (or non-restrictive) clause: which is full of white sands.

WHEREAS:

[...] Where along the long shore, full of white sands, the gloom of evening engulfs my heart.

full of white sands, is an adjectival phrase that modifies the long shore

Cambridge Dictionary _Grammar

Adjective phrases Grammar > Adjectives and adverbs > Adjectives > Adjective phrases from English Grammar Today An adjective phrase always has an adjective acting as the head. The adjective phrase may also contain words or phrases before or after the head (modifiers and complements):

Non-essential clauses can be removed from the sentence and it will still make sense. Using an adjectival phrase is usually a stylistically better choice.

So, skip which if it can be made into an adjectival phrase.

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