On page 229 in A Student’s Introduction to English Grammar, I found myself new to the rule that requires both coordinates to be relativised if the first one is

[14] They attended the dinner but they are not members.

II The people [who attended the dinner but who are not members] owe $20.

III * The people [who attended the dinner but they are not members] owe $20.

These examples are clear to me. It's a part later in the chapter that caused me some confusion. The part I am referring to is about main-clause and lower level coordination, an example of which was given in the book as follows:

He [made a mistake or changed his mind].

The main clause equivalent of which is:

He made a mistake or he changed his mind.

In the light of the foregoing, can the following sentence be considered grammatical?

The people [who attended the dinner but are not members] owe $20

I thought about the lower level coordination example like that " both coordinates shared the same subject he" which made me think the same about the relative pronoun who

  • 2
    You have it. Another way is "The people who attended the dinner without being members owe $20" or "Non-member attendees owe $20 for the dinner." Commented Aug 11, 2023 at 22:38
  • Don't be distracted by the conjunction but. Logically speaking, it's The people [who attended AND who aren't members] owe $20. Commented Dec 10, 2023 at 1:07

1 Answer 1


As your title suggests, the conjuncts (which you call "coordinates") must be "syntactically similar". That is, they should perform the same function. Thus, your proposed sentence can be diagrammed as follows (with the conjuncts in brackets):

The people who [attended the dinner] but [are not members] owe $20.

Both conjuncts are predicates (headed by finite verbs), and they share the subject "who", which is a relative pronoun, as you say. This sentence is, therefore, correct.

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