Mr. Miller 's cost revenue figures paint an inaccurate picture because they do not consider the additional sales taxes from alcohol purchases, only revenue from alcohol excise taxes, the bulk of which flow to the state.

I want to know what "which" is referring to and why. I guess it refers to alcohol excise taxes, because it the nearest noun to "which". Can I comprehend it in this way?

  • 2
    Preceding noun (phrase) (alcohol excise taxes). Commented Jun 16, 2022 at 10:55
  • 3
    "Flow" is plural, so the antecedent is the plural NP "alcohol excise taxes".
    – BillJ
    Commented Jun 16, 2022 at 11:14
  • 1
    What is your source? You should cite the source, especially if you are quoting from it.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Jun 16, 2022 at 15:28
  • @BillJ But other words like sales taxes, alcohol purchases and revenue are also plural, why does it have to be alcohol excise taxes? Is the proposed antecedent based on the word that "which" is closest to or logic? Commented Jun 18, 2022 at 3:45
  • @Mari-Lou A I wish I could but I can't, for the access to foreign Internet is restricted in my country. Commented Jun 18, 2022 at 3:49

3 Answers 3


The noun phrase that "which" refers to is "revenue from alcohol excise taxes". This follows the standard rule of relative pronouns referring to the nearest antecedent that matches in number, gender, semantics, etc.

Why is "alcohol excise taxes" not the antecedent?
A tax is an imposed charge added to some other amount, not the revenue itself that comes from it. Although the word "taxes" is often used informally to refer to revenue from taxes, in this case the word "taxes" only refers to the levied charge itself, not to the revenue that comes from it.

The sentence is poorly written because in number, "taxes" agrees with "flow", which suggests that "taxes" is the antecedent, but this ignores the correct and precise use of "revenue", so I think the sentence should have been written with "flows".

  • 1
    caught me on that one ;)
    – DialFrost
    Commented Jun 21, 2022 at 0:01
  • I respectfully disagree. I have explained why in my answer.
    – PPH
    Commented Jun 23, 2022 at 11:54
  • 1
    @PPH Good catch. I think overall it's a poorly written sentence, which I've addressed. I've upvoted your answer too.
    – gotube
    Commented Jun 23, 2022 at 16:28
  • Gotube, so was I correct before to say "taxes"?
    – DialFrost
    Commented Jun 27, 2022 at 2:46
  • @DialFrost I think so
    – gotube
    Commented Jun 27, 2022 at 18:00

Yes you are correct. Usually when "which" is used, look before it, in this case it refers to "alcohol excise taxes" which is the noun phrase. "Which" is usually used to point something out right before it, lest it become too confusing. So it means the bulk of the taxes go to the state.


You guessed correctly. "Which" refers to "alcohol excise taxes" and not "revenue".

Why is "revenue" not the antecedent?

Because of the verb flow:

Revenue flows...
Taxes flow...

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