While the direction was being executed, the lady consulted moved slowly up the room. I suppose I have a considerable organ of veneration, for I retain yet the sense of admiring awe with which my eyes traced her steps. (Jane Eyre)

Does ‘with which’ plays a role of adverb phrase in its relative clause, and the relative clause (with which my eyes trace her steps) make an adjective clause for the NP before of it?

  • I do not understand the question, nor why it could possibly matter. Why do you want to know this strange structural stuff anyway?
    – tchrist
    Feb 20, 2013 at 2:28
  • 1
    @tchrist, Because English structures are quite different from my mother tongue, Korean. So if I can’t parse them, that exactly mean I don’t understand what they are saying. Why? For understanding what they are saying! If you were to learn Korean or Japanese, you could know what I say.
    – Listenever
    Feb 20, 2013 at 2:35
  • <comments removed> Comments should be used to ask for clarifications or make suggestions on how to improve the post. Please refrain from turning comments into miniature chat room and discussion forums. Thanks. Feb 20, 2013 at 17:00

1 Answer 1


You got it.

The basic form of the final clause, in traditional grammar, is:

[SubjectMy eyes] [Verbtraced] [Direct Objecther steps] [prepositional phrase[prepositionwith] [objecta sense of admiring awe].

The prepositional phrase (which has another prepositional phrase 'embedded') modifies the verb traced.

In order to focus on sense as the object of the previous verb retain, we

  1. move the sense &c to the object position ...

    I retain yet [the sense of admiring awe]

  2. replace the sense &c with the relative pronoun which (which is therefore now the object of the preposition with), and ‘front’ it ...

    which [my eyes traced her steps with.]

  3. then, since with is a true preposition, not a component of a phrasal verb, we move it to its natural position ahead of its object.

    with which [my eyes traced her steps]

Note that step 3 can only be carried out with a WH- relative, not with that. The technical term for it is ‘pied piping’, after the old German story of the ‘Pied Piper of Hamelin’, the subject of a charming poem by Robert Browning.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .