When he went to Japan to meet his friends, he bowed a little to them instead of having handshakes, which is the Japanese way of greeting people.

Is this sentence correct?

It seems that the "which" refers to the action of bowing a little.

Can "which" refer to a part of a sentence like this?

  • Yes, supplementary relative clauses can refer to virtually anything. In your example, the preceding clause "he bowed a little to them" is the antecedent of "which". We understand that R is the Japanese way of greeting people, where R is interpreted as his bowing a little.
    – BillJ
    Apr 14, 2021 at 16:59

1 Answer 1


Yes, it certainly can. However that sentence is actually ambiguous, because without context, which is more likely to refer to the more recent "having handshakes" than to the earlier "bowed a little". But grammatically it is fine.

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