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1 There is the book which my parents presented me with on the desk. Actually, I keep it there.

2 There is a book which my parents presented me with on the desk. Actually, I keep it there.

3 There is a book, which my parents presented me with, on the desk. Actually, I keep it there.

Do you agree that all three sentences mean difference things? What are they? What's the difference?

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  • 1
    It's easiest to say which way is correct between different options if everything else is the same, but I notice you change between "the" and "a", AND you change between identifying and non-identifying relative clauses. Which one of these are you unsure about? Or if it's some combination of the two, please edit your question to include an explanation of what you're unsure about.
    – gotube
    Nov 17, 2022 at 20:23
  • 2
    Also, "which my parents presented me with" is very awkward to read, which makes it difficult to decide if it's correct. Could you replace it with "gave me" without changing the intent of your question?
    – gotube
    Nov 17, 2022 at 20:26
  • The "Actually, I keep it there" is also a bit awkward, since "actually" is usually used to contradict something, but it isn't clear what the previous assumption would be that is being corrected with "actually."
    – Esther
    Nov 17, 2022 at 20:28
  • Which that diffen.com/difference/….
    – Boba Fit
    Nov 18, 2022 at 14:02

1 Answer 1

1

The "Actually , I keep it there." doesn't sound right ("actually" is typically used to change one's position), and without context it's difficult to say what it means. But it's identical in each sentence, so until we know what it's purpose is, I'll ignore it.

The "presented me with" sounds too formal. But it's identical in each sentence, so until we know why it was worded that way, I'll change it to "gave me".

3 There is a book, which my parents gave me, on the desk.

Note that the "which …" clauses is surrounded by commas. That makes it a parenthetical clause: it provides additional information, but the information doesn't change the meaning of the sentence. If it were completely deleted, "There is a book on the desk.", the sentence would still be true. The identical meaning could have been expressed in two sentences: "There is a book on the desk. My parents gave it to me.".

This sentence is talking about the desk. It says that there is a book on it. It further says that this book was given to you by your parents.


2 There is a book which my parents gave me on the desk.

This time "which my parents gave me" is not surrounded by parentheses. That makes it a restrictive clause, it provides information that makes that book different from other books. It could not be broken up into two sentences without changing the meaning of the sentence.

This sentence is talking about one instance of a specific kind of item. To a question like "Did you buy all this stuff yourself?", you might respond, "No, there is a book … .".


1 There is the book which my parents gave me on the desk.

Again, this is a restrictive clause. But the use of "the" rather than "a" means that the listener already knows about that specific book.

This sentence is talking about a specific book. Earlier, you might have been with someone that really likes horses and you told them about a birthday present you recently received. Now you are both at your home and you point out where that book is.


One additional comment.

For the restrictive clauses (2 and 3), many people believe that, in addition to omitting the commas, it is best to further distinguish it from a parenthetical clause by using "that" instead of "which".

3 There is a book, which my parents gave me, on the desk.
2 There is a book that my parents gave me on the desk.
1 There is the book that my parents gave me on the desk.

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