I'm confused by this sentence:

many people came who were interested in art

Why is who is used after came? Is it correct?

  • here "who" is related to the people intrested in arts. – user27818 Dec 19 '15 at 4:43

The normal form of this sentence would be

Many people who were interested in art came.

But sentences like that can be hard to understand, because the long relative clause who were interested in art keeps the listener/reader waiting for the main verb came.

In some circumstances English allows the components to be swapped, to keep the "light" verb phrase close to its subject, before the "heavy" modifier. That is what has happened to your example.

This is sometimes called heavy component extraposition.

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From the sentence

many people came who were interested in art

the reader primarily gets the impression that "many people came". However the part about their interest in art seems to be of secondary importance.

The suggested answer of

Many people who were interested in art came.

is better because it still conveys that many people came, but the reader already knows that they are also people who were interested in art. Both parts of the information are clear.

In my opinion the sentence itself isn't particularly good. It would make more sense to also mention what the people were attending, to add context, e.g.

The event was attended by many people who were interested in art.

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  • That does make sense, but now you're using passive voice, which may or may not convey the right tone. Perhaps "The event's audience included many people who..."? – Kevin Sep 23 '15 at 14:52
  • I disagree. The main verb is came, so that is what the sentence is about, whatever order it is spoken in. The relative clause identifies or characterises the people, whether it precedes or follows. The extraposed version is just as clear, and avoids the processing overhead of remembering the incomplete main sentence while dealing with the subordinate clause. And whether the sentence is OK on its own or not depends entirely on the context: in some contexts your final suggestion may be right, in others it is unnecessary verbiage. – Colin Fine Sep 23 '15 at 14:53

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