He stinks of clothes (that were) forgotten in a laundry basket.

Should there be a "that were" here? Is it optional? Why or why not?

  • 1
    That have been would be better - but it is optional because the sentence can be understood without it. Aug 19 at 13:16
  • @KateBunting Thanks for the suggestion. Why have been instead of were?
    – alexchenco
    Aug 19 at 13:46
  • 1
    Jus because 'that's how we say it'. [The] clothes that were forgotten sounds as though the clothes have been rediscovered and are known about. Clothes that have been forgotten describes some hypothetical clothes, as referred to here. Aug 19 at 13:57

No, 'that were' is not required but optional. The sentence has a subject and verb, and 'forgotten in a laundry basket' modifies clothes. If some grammar rule somewhere says that the original sentence is wrong, I vote to change that rule. Personally, I find the sentence to be more effective without the addition.

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