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I have this sentence:

The system shall allow any customer to find the restaurant which has best served a specific food item.

I want to say that there are many restaurants serving food items and I want the system to allow customers to find the best restaurant which serves that food item.

My question is about grammar: Is which has best served grammatically right?

  • Yes, since "restaurant" is singular "which has best served" is grammatical. Otherwise, if you use "restaurants", you should write "which have best served". However, since you want a restrictive clause I would go with "that" there, not "which". – user114 Apr 1 '13 at 14:13
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    @Carlo_R. The that-for-restrictive-clauses schtick has never been English practice. It was proposed by the Fowler brothers in 1906 and picked up by a handful of people who like making up and enforcing rules; but it is not obligatory or, to my mind, even advisable. See this. – StoneyB Apr 1 '13 at 14:26
  • user, thank you for the nice words, but I'm sure that some expert can post a better and more complete answer. I only hope of having helped you, at least for the time being. – user114 Apr 1 '13 at 14:28
  • @Stoney, thank you, I haven't read that blog article yet, but I found it interesting and very instructive. – user114 Apr 1 '13 at 14:36
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As @Carlo_R commented, yes: the sentence is grammatical. However, correct grammar does not necessarily produce correct meaning.

If you want to allow customers to find the best restaurants that serve a given food item, you should state it just like that: "...the best restaurants that serve..." The way you have it written right now, the restaurant may be average or poor, and the service in general may be average or poor, but the restaurant at some point served the food in question in the best fashion. Depending on where you put the word "best", it modifies different parts of the sentence and makes the focus of your search different. Are you looking for:

  • The best restaurant?
  • the best food item?
  • the best service?

Also, your use of the past-tense "has served" indicates that we are talking about some event that is now complete, rather than a current quality of the restaurant or food or service.

I would suggest that you go with the sentence that you used to explain your intent, with minor modifications:

The system shall allow customers to find the best restaurants that serve a given food item.

This puts the focus on the overall quality of the restaurant and implies that the entire dining experience will be excellent: friendly service, prompt attention, tasty food, etc.

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