hey guys I'm confused of the use of relative pronoun which.

Can a "which" clause be linked to the noun with its meaning in a far distance in a sentence?

like this

the concept prevails around the people in the company which is about ethic.

As far as I know, the structure is right if the "which" clause follows next to the noun "concept" I'd like to modify and so it is if we have only one prepositional Phrase(in the company) between the "concept" and the "which". But I'm not sure how far distance the "which" clause can modify a noun?

Please give me an answer and if i'm totally wrong Point it out please.

  • Hi @JBL I'm actually having a problem understanding the whole sentence. Are you saying that there is a prevailing concept of ethics in the company and what do you mean by that? I think you're probably making the the right call about 'which' but it's difficult to be sure as the rest of it needs some work...
    – PerryW
    Jun 8, 2016 at 23:14
  • thanks for your answer but I seem to make a mistake in the rest of the sentence.
    – JBL
    Jun 9, 2016 at 7:26

1 Answer 1


This sentence sounds awkward. It's not right for a few different reasons.

1) The reader will assume that which is describing company, not concept. The reader will always assume a modifier describes the noun closest to it. This is an example of a misplaced modifier. There is a good page here: http://www.chompchomp.com/terms/misplacedmodifier.htm I would suggest reading the last section, "Know how to fix a misplaced modifier." It involves whether you use a comma or not to separate the phrase from its closest noun. But in the case above, there are three nouns, and the comma would only help you distinguish between two.

2) "The concept which is about ethics" (not ethic) is vague. Is it an ethical concept (that is, a "good idea"), or is it a concept about a specific, ethical idea?

3) Prevails around the people is an unusual phrase. It suggests that something that prevails is something that can physically move near people. Prevails around the world or prevails around the company sound a little better, because it's clearer that the noun is not a physical thing.

Might I suggest the following sentences instead:

The concept, which involves ethics, prevails in the minds of the employees.

This ethical concept prevails company-wide.

  • Thanks for your answer. but I couldn't get in two things. One question is this. What is the difference between the words, you said, "good idea" and "ethical idea"? And the second one is this. Do you mean both the preposition "around" and the word "People" are not much suitable to be used wih an immaterial word?
    – JBL
    Jun 9, 2016 at 8:27

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