Joe threw the ball to Sue, who caught it.

Joe threw the ball to Sue and she caught it.

As I understand it from my grammar book, the relative clause in the first example give us extra information about the person or thing (because of comma). So, can I replace "who" with "and she" without the loss of the meaning? I suppose I can. Which version is more common in usage if both versions are idiomatic and interchangeable? I suppose the second version is more common because it's well-known Past Simple.

  • Replacements or rewriting always changes meanings.
    – Lambie
    Nov 15, 2022 at 19:20

2 Answers 2


For most purposes, those two sentences are interchangeable.

If you're looking for really subtle differences, the first one reads like a single event -- the throw-and-catch of the ball, while the second one reads more like a sequence of distinct events -- he threw it, and then she caught it.

So you might prefer the second one if you want to highlight the catch, like maybe catching the ball was the important event, or she'd missed the catch several times before this particular throw and you want to focus on the fact she caught this one.

  • If I understand you right, the first sentence is closer in its meaning to: "Joe threw the ball to Sue, it was caught." In that version we have a single event -- the throw-and-catch of the ball. Am I right?
    – Sergei
    Nov 16, 2022 at 12:58
  • @Sergei It's not clear to me that "Joe threw the ball to Sue, it was caught" is a single event, partly because it has a comma splice error, and depending on how you corrected that error, it might have a different meaning.
    – gotube
    Nov 16, 2022 at 17:54
  • Do you mean that a semicolon convert "Joe threw the ball to Sue; it was caught." into not a single event? Is it possible to convert the sentence into a single event?
    – Sergei
    Nov 16, 2022 at 21:36
  • @Sergei There's no grammatical or semantic category of "single event", if that's what you're asking, so there's no "converting" it. I said there's a very subtle difference between the two phrasings you asked about, and gave an explanation of it. To me, your sentence with a semicolon feels more like two events.
    – gotube
    Nov 17, 2022 at 4:06

You can't change "who" to "she" because the "who" clause is indeed a subordinate clause, as it uses the relative pronoun "who".

With "she," however, it's just an ungrammatical comma splice. "She" does not serve as a relative pronoun, as "who" does. Therefore "Joe threw the ball to Sue" and "she caught it" are both independent clauses.

  • I understand the second version contains two independent clauses. Do you think the second example is ungrammatical?
    – Sergei
    Nov 15, 2022 at 8:04
  • 1
    @Sergei Each individual clause is grammatical, but the sentence with both ungrammatical because you can't just ram together two independent clauses using a comma. You would need some kind of connecting word (like "and she caught it") or a semicolon ("to Sue; she caught it.")
    – stangdon
    Nov 15, 2022 at 12:17
  • @stangdon, thank you for your answer. Could you answer on my main question, please? Joe threw the ball to Sue, who caught it. Joe threw the ball to Sue and she caught it. Does these sentences are the same in their meaning? Do you see the difference in the context? It's an important question for me because in my native language we don't speak like it is in the first example.
    – Sergei
    Nov 15, 2022 at 12:33
  • @Sergei I think the meaning is essentially the same for both. There is only a slight difference in emphasis. "Joe threw the ball to Sue, who caught it" emphasizes a single action, while "Joe threw the ball to Sue, and she caught it" describes two actions.
    – stangdon
    Nov 15, 2022 at 16:00
  • @stangdon, Really? It's something new for me. I understand that the second example describes two actions. But why the first example describes a single action? We saw that "Joe threw the ball to Sue" but we didn't saw how Sue caught it. We knew about that by sound of the ball. Is it the right explanation of the difference?
    – Sergei
    Nov 15, 2022 at 17:18

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