1

The researchers had made this happen by lengthening the period of daylight to which the peach trees on whose roots the insects fed were exposed.

I'm really trying to get familiar with the context marked (I don't know exact terms. I suppose that proposition wh- clause?) and I have to get some views of how the natives or good-at-English learners take in and interpret it.

And please change into informal forms: I guess (to which) and (on whose) are way too literary style. Thanks

  • 1. ...way too literary style. I think not. This is just the correct form of writing these. 2. Try isolating the second clause with "on whose". Put it this way: "...to which the peach trees were exposed." Does that help? – M.A.R. Mar 8 '15 at 20:05
  • A semi-formal alternative: The researchers had made this happen by lengthening the period of daylight exposed to peach trees with the insects feeding on their roots. – Damkerng T. Mar 9 '15 at 3:21
  • 2
    @DamkerngT: that doesn't work. The trees are exposed to light. The light is not exposed to trees. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Mar 9 '15 at 11:43
  • @TRomano With all due respect, I believe it works. That thought crossed my mind indeed (trees are exposed to light, not light is exposed to trees). However, I believe that in this case, light is exposed to trees indeed, by the researchers. It could just be that I and I alone naively think it works, though. – Damkerng T. Mar 11 '15 at 5:49
  • @TRomano After thinking about it more, I believe you're right. It could work only in another language, but probably not in English. (It seems like I thought of "expose" as an intransitive verb as well, which is Un-English.) My apologies. (My apologies to the OP as well.) – Damkerng T. Mar 11 '15 at 5:59
1

The researchers had made this happen by lengthening the period of daylight to which the peach trees on whose roots the insects fed were exposed.

No, this is not "way too literary" style, but it is somewhat formal (and the delayed "were exposed" makes the language part of your brain have to work a little harder to hold the sentence in suspension).

It could have been written so:

The researchers had made this happen by exposing the peach trees, on whose roots the insects fed, to longer periods of daylight.

At the bottom of it, is the verb phrase "expose {something} to {something}".

That word "to" needs to introduce the relative clause. Consider:

Unless it is passivated, the metal will rust when it is exposed to the ocean air.

The unpassivated metal has rusted because the air to which it was exposed is salty ocean air.

or less formally, but still requiring "to":

The metal has rusted because the air it was exposed to is salty ocean air.

A similar dynamic appears with "feed on":

The insects feed on roots.

The roots on which the insects feed....

The roots the insects feed on ...

The trees, on whose roots the insects feed...

The trees whose roots the insects feed on ....

0

A relative clause attaches a previous statement to a future statement. So:

Some of the peach trees were exposed to an extended period of daylight.

gets round the 'to which', but whether you choose to or not is up to the writer (or speaker).

Now we have to attempt to connect the 'some peach trees' to the more specific 'peach trees with insects feeding on their roots', but the 'on whose' clause implies that there are peach trees without insects feeding on their roots, which is not made clear, and we can use 'those' to imply a differentiation:

Some peach trees, those with insects feeding on their roots, were exposed to an extended period of daylight.

And all that remains is to reference the researchers:

By exposing some peach trees, those with insects feeding on their roots, to an extended period of daylight, our researchers had made this happen.

Although you might prefer brackets to commas:

By exposing some peach trees (those with insects feeding on their roots) to an extended period of daylight, our researchers had made this happen.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.