"TED is where brilliant people go to hear other brilliant people share their ideas."

The above is an excerpt from the book Talk Like TED. Is the modifier 'share their ideas' correctly connected to the word 'people'? Should a relative pronoun have been used before the modifier, or should a verbal have been used instead of 'share', or is it fine the way it is?

  • Hi semicolon! Do you feel comfortable with "TED is where people go to hear other people speak"? Or would you have questions about that structure as well? – Jim Reynolds Feb 27 '15 at 8:36
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    Consider: "Brilliant people go [to the theater] [to hear [other brilliant people]/[them] [share their ideas]]." --> "Jill wanted [to hear [them] [share their ideas]].", which is a catenative construction, and it does not involve a relative clause. So, it seems that your original example is fine as is, imo. :) – F.E. Feb 27 '15 at 8:48

I think you expect a relative clause with a relative pronoun: "...go to hear other brilliant people who share/are sharing their ideas."

In English:

Relative pronouns are often dropped in short restrictive clauses: That's the man [whom] I saw.

From Wikipedia

We often leave out such pronouns in English, although they are still there invisibly, like you (understood) in (You) please let me know if this is helpful.

Although the Wikipedia section linked to above says that this omission (the grammatical term is ellipsis) is: "generally restricted to very informal speech and certain fixed expressions," I disagree. It occurs even in formal writing.

However, it goes on to say that "the rules for their use [whether to use them or omit them] are complex and vary among dialects," and this, unfortunately, is quite true. That only improves with more and more input of correct English, and of course it is maddeningly slow for most learners!

Update: In his comment under your question, F.E. points to a more basic explanation. Multiple verbs are positioned in an additive fashion, not necessarily as main and relative/subordinate clauses. All such "serial" verbs except the last are catenative verbs, and their basic grammar is described here.

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    First of all, Thanks. I am not a native speaker (apparently). I am just trying to resolve the sentence according to the rules i've learned. I'm also aware that a language is not just a bunch of grammar rules; if the statement makes itself clear and the message is understood, then the purpose is served. But still, I want to distinguish the case whether it is colloquially OK or both colloquially and grammatically OK. – semicolon Feb 27 '15 at 9:22
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    What confuses me is that you can omit the relative pronoun if the word modified is the object of the relative clause. But I guess that's not the case, the modified word 'people' is the subject of the modifying clause. – semicolon Feb 27 '15 at 9:22
  • It is grammatically standard. See the updated lower section of my answer. – Jim Reynolds Feb 27 '15 at 9:55

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