This can lead inexperienced mathematicians to conclude that these concepts are related, which in fact they are not.
Source: Wikipedia.

I would expect the bold part to instead be "which, in fact, are not".

It seems to be the case that the which does not refer to the concepts and it appears to me that there's something omitted. If so, what is omitted here?

I've seen this usage a lot and so I don't doubt about its correctness now and wish to know about its grammar aspects.

  • 1
    I suppose your cited text could be seen as "clumsy", but your attempt to "fix" it just makes things even worse. Better by far to simply replace which with when (or perhaps but), then no-one could pick holes in it. Aug 21, 2014 at 17:16
  • @FumbleFingers "which, in fact, are not" doesn't sound the way the author would want it to sound, but surely it's grammatical. Is the Wikipedia's expression ungrammatical? I want to know the rigorous evaluation of the correctness of it. And wouldn't your 'when' refer to time? There was no time mentioned in the sentence before the relative clause.
    – user26486
    Aug 21, 2014 at 17:22
  • @FumbleFingers' edit works, too: when can refer to situations as well as events. Aug 21, 2014 at 17:46
  • @StoneyB: I'd never really thought about such usages of when (or while) before. It's in OED as defn 9b In adversative sense: While on the other hand, while on the contrary, whereas. But quite how/why when and while lose their "temporal" associations there, and what happens to the "locative" sense of whereas, curremtly escapes me. Aug 21, 2014 at 18:02
  • @mathh: I'm guessing you're not a native speaker. So far as I can tell, there's no suggestion of time being relevant to my proposed change involving when. Aug 21, 2014 at 18:03

1 Answer 1


The antecedent of which is not the noun concepts but the adjective related:

 ...        in fact they are not related.
 ...        in fact they are not [which]
         ↓  ←  ←  ←  ←  ←  ←  ←  ←  ↵   
 .... which in fact they are not
  • oh, I understand it now. My mistake was having unconscious thinking that 'which' always refer to nouns.
    – user26486
    Aug 21, 2014 at 17:30

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