It draws a contrast with the West, which it says prefers smaller clubs (like the g7).

Even the industrial revolution of the late 1700s, which many people believe was the result of the invention of the spinning jenny, was actually caused by all sorts of factors coming together: increasing use of coal, firmer property rights, the emergence of a scientific ethos and much more besides.

Does "it says" and "people believe" function as parenthetical phrase? If so, the object of "says" or "believe" should be "which", but "which" refers to "the West" or "the industrial revolution". Actually, it says "the West prefers smaller clubs (like the g7)", and so does "people believe ".

Is the first equal to "It draws a contrast with the West, which prefers smaller clubs (like the g7)-it says"? And then the object of "says" becomes "which prefers smaller clubs (like the g7)".

  • Without more context, we can't tell whether the second "it" in your first cited utterance refers to "the West", OR to the same entity referred to by the first word. I don't think classifying which prefers smaller clubs (like the g7) as the "object" of says is a useful analytical approach, but maybe others think different. May 9 at 10:59
  • ...my mistake! If the second "it" refers to "the West", that would be expressed as ...which says it prefers smaller clubs... (in current English, that is; I think both interpretations would have been possible with the original it says sequence in Victorian English). May 9 at 12:16
  • As written, there are no parentheses and no reason for there to be any.
    – Lambie
    May 9 at 12:47
  • FWIW, many English speakers (including myself until a few minutes ago) think that "parenthesis" only means the two writing marks "(" and ")". What you're correctly calling parenthesis, we normally call a "parenthetical remark", so the downvote and negative comments you're getting are likely a result of that confusion. To make your question clear to everyone, consider editing your question to replace "parenthesis" with "parenthetical remark".
    – gotube
    May 9 at 19:28

2 Answers 2


Exactly as written, neither of those phrases is parenthetical because they are not separated by commas.

It draws a contrast with the West, which, it says, prefers smaller clubs...

Even the industrial revolution of the late 1700s, which, many people believe, was the result of the invention of the spinning jenny...

Now both phrases are parenthetical.

The difference in function is that without the commas, the writer is merely quoting a source, or repeating a belief. With commas, however, the writer is asserting that those things are likely true, and giving the source.

  • So,"which" is the object of "says" or "believe" and subject of "prefers" or "was" at the same time? Seldom hava seen this usage of "which".
    – Mr. Wang
    May 11 at 1:41
  • The object of "says" is "the West prefers smaller clubs". It could be rephrased, "It draws a contrast with the West and it says the West prefers smaller clubs". Phrased this way, it's no longer parenthetical, but it clearly shows the object of "says".
    – gotube
    May 11 at 5:13
  • Without rephrasing the sentence,what is the usage of "which it says",since "it says" is not parenthetical?The original sentence seems "which" functions as a object and subject at the same time.I am confused about this,not your rephrased version.
    – Mr. Wang
    May 11 at 5:44
  • "which it says" is not a phrase. "Which" is a relative pronoun representing its antecedent "The West", and is the head of the relative clause, "which it says prefers smaller clubs". "It says" is the subject and main verb of that clause. In that clause, "The West" is the subject of "prefers".
    – gotube
    May 11 at 18:02

They are parentheses in the sense 'a word or phrase inserted as an explanation', but they don't have a direct object.

Presumably it refers to a book or article.

It draws a contrast with the West, which, so it (the article) says, prefers smaller clubs.

The Industrial Revolution, which as many people believe was the result of the invention of the spinning jenny...

NB The other meaning of parenthesis is the punctuation mark otherwise known as brackets ( ).

  • Well, people obviously don't agree with me. There are no parentheses in the sense of (brackets), but the phrases are parenthetical in the sense 'a word or phrase inserted as an explanation'. May 9 at 15:35
  • 1 minute ago, I didn't know "parenthesis" had any meaning other than the writing symbols, so the downvotes you've gotten may be from tools like me who think you're saying those phrases are writing marks.
    – gotube
    May 9 at 19:23
  • A parenthetical phrase is not a phrase in parenthesis.
    – Lambie
    May 9 at 21:02

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