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"Mark Twain is a famous author. He wrote The Adventures of Tom Sawyer."

Write this as a non-defining relative clause.

I tried this problem, but I was confused about which clause had greater importance. I just want to know which of the following is correct

  • "Mark Twain, who is a famous author, wrote The Adventures of Tom Sawyer."
  • "Mark Twain, who wrote The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, is a famous author."

It's for a test and my English teacher said that only 1 answer could be correct. I've had a problem identifying the "important" information to keep and not keep, the moment I started learning Relative Clauses. But most websites simply say that the correct sentence, is the one you want to appropriately highlight certain topics in.

~Somebody, please help me with this.~

Well, it's too late now.

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    Please show your attempt. edit your question.
    – James K
    Apr 3 at 13:40
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    It can go either way. Assuming this is a classroom exercise, you'll have to look carefully at the other examples to see what you're supposed to do.
    – Stuart F
    Apr 3 at 13:49
  • Mark Twain, a famous author, who wrote The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. This functions more like a noun phrase and doesn't have any meaning when you read it. I just want to know which of the following is correct- "Mark Twain, who is a famous author, wrote The Adventures of Tom Sawyer." "Mark Twain, who wrote The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, is a famous author." Apr 3 at 14:45
  • Either can be correct depending on which part of the sentence you wish to emphasise. Apr 3 at 15:03
  • But it was for a test and my English teacher said that only 1 answer could be correct. I've had a problem identifying the "important" information to keep and not keep, the moment I started learning Relative Clauses. But most websites simply say that the sentence that is correct, is the one you want to appropriately highlight certain topics in. Apr 3 at 17:28

2 Answers 2

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M. Twain is a famous writer, and he wrote something. "Mark Twain is a famous writer, who wrote The Adventures of Tom Sawyer."

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    So "Mark Twain, who is a famous author, wrote The Adventures of Tom Sawyer"? Apr 3 at 13:31
  • That would also answer the question.
    – James K
    Apr 3 at 14:02
  • Your answer could be improved with additional supporting information. Please edit to add further details, such as citations or documentation, so that others can confirm that your answer is correct. You can find more information on how to write good answers in the help center.
    – Community Bot
    Apr 4 at 21:35
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There's a problem in re-writing your entire text (which comprises of two separate sentences) as "a non-defining clause". Your text currently presents information about Mark Twain in a grammatically correct manner. But a non-defining clause is something that adds non-essential detail to a sentence - it cannot stand alone.

You could introduce Mark Twain as:

Mark Twain, a famous author, who wrote The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.

This presents all the additional information contained in your statements about Mark Twain as secondary, non-essential information. But, because it is all non-essential, it doesn't say anything about the man at all. It isn't a complete sentence. It would have to be part of an extended statement, for example:

My favourite quotation is from Mark Twain, a famous author, who wrote The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.

The only way to present just the information in your two sentences using a non-defining clause without adding any further to it would be to change it into the passive voice:

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer was written by Mark Twain, a famous author.

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  • Wouldn't it do to simply delete "who" from your first suggestion? Or to flip it, as "Mark Twain, who wrote TAoS, is a famous author"? But the problem with the question, as you point out, is that both pieces of info could be non-essential. Apr 3 at 14:32
  • @AndyBonner Yes, that would make a complete sentence, but not all of the information would be non-defining. The OP hasn't made it clear which part of his text he wants to be a non-defining clause. As it is, it isn't even written with defining clauses - it's just two statements about the author.
    – Astralbee
    Apr 3 at 22:05
  • @Astralbee That's the problem. If the question had specified, I would've easily figured it out. The question's lack of information makes me wonder about its validity. Asking my teacher was unsuccessful; she stressed the "single correct answer" concept quite sternly, I must say. The only spark of hope I have is to have a "grammar expert" help me out, and at least help me prove my point before her. Apr 4 at 10:48
  • Well, your teacher didn't teach apposition? Mark Twain, a famous author, wrote The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.
    – Lambie
    Apr 4 at 13:40
  • @Astralbee My understanding was that defining (aka restrictive) clauses contain information essential to identifying the subject and cannot be omitted. I.e., in "The man who wrote Tom Sawyer is famous," the "who" clause is restrictive (and thus not set off by commas). But in "Mark Twain, who wrote Tom Sawyer, is famous," the clause is non-restrictive (and same is true of "Mark Twain, a famous author, wrote Tom Sawyer"). So there's no way to say either is an invalid sentence, though one of them might be a bad answer since it changes the intended emphasis of the sentence. Apr 4 at 13:49

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