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I know that you use a restrictive adjective clause when you refer to a proper noun.

  • ex) Horyuji, which is the oldest building in Japan, was built more than 1000 years ago.

However, should I use a restrictive clause or an unrestrictive clause in the sentence below?

  • Horyuji is Japan's oldest building which was built more than 1000 years ago.

There is no other "Japan's oldest building" aside from Horyuji. Do you need to use an unrestrictive clause in this case?

2 Answers 2

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  • Horyuji is Japan's oldest building, which was built more than [a] 1000 years ago.

The part in bold is not a restrictive (defining) clause. The subordinate clause introduces new information, the date of the the building's construction, but the relative clause does not define the subject. If we remove the subordinate clause the sentence stands on its own: “Horyuji is Japan's oldest building.”

  • Horyuji which is Japan's oldest building, was built more than a thousand years ago.

The first clause contains information that defines the subject, it identifies the thing being described. Removing the restricted relative clause (which is Japan's oldest building) we are left with: “Horyuji was built more than a thousand years ago" which changes the meaning of the original sentence.

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No. You are giving extra information that is not required.

"Horyuji is Japan's oldest building " can stand quite happily alone.

One correct way to write the sentence would be:

"Horyuji, Japan's oldest building, was built more than 1000 years ago."

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  • Are you telling me that neither of "Horyuji is Japan's oldest building which was built more than 1000 years ago." nor "Horyuji is Japan's oldest building, which was built more than 1000 years ago." are incorrect? Why is that? I'm not asking for a natural way to express it, but I only want to know about grammar.
    – kuwabara
    Commented Oct 30, 2022 at 14:56
  • I'm not saying that. They are incorrect. The second sentence (in the original question) is incorrect for the reason you stated. I'm sorry- I answered two questions with a single 'no' which made the answer ambiguous.
    – PRL75
    Commented Oct 30, 2022 at 15:14

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