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  #1 (permalink)  
Unread Dec 4th, 2008, 07:05 pm
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Default "I visited the place which is Korea."

"I visited the place which was Korea."

This was the answer a student gave to a question that required them to rearrange the words. The answer was supposed to be:
"The place which I visited was Korea."

I have issues with the 'which' in the correct answer, but for the discussion here, I changed the question for everyone to "the place which is Korea."

Anyway, why doesn't this work with is? Naturally, we'd just say 'I visited Korea.' It seems that we wouldn't define which place by saying Korea, possibly because it's clear to all that Korea is a place. Does it have to do with the fact that it's a proper noun? Is it the 'the', indicating we already know the place? everything?

What do you think?
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Unread Dec 6th, 2008, 01:14 pm
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Default Re: "I visited the place which is Korea."

Hi Mark,

Had to admit that I had to sleep on this one ... but here are some ideas.

First of all, there's a problem with ....is Korea. the function here is "naming" and in English we normally name using "is called" - eg not My brother is Jon but My brother is called Jon. So first of all I'd add "called" to the sentence.

Ssecondly, there's a problem with the naming function in the relative clause. Relative clauses can either add information - eg My brother, who is called John, lives in the UK.
or they can define - eg My brother who is called John lives in the UK (whereas my brother who is called Paul lives in the States).

Here we seem to have a defining clause. But then "the" doesn't work. Change it to "a" and it's fine : I visited a place which is called Korea. The oddness which remains is not grammatical but semantic - Korea is well known and it would (as you suggest) be odd to have to specify that it's a place. But imagine it was an extraterrestrial who had visited the earth and was reporting back - change the point of view and it becomes semantically possible. So it's not a grammatical problem.

In your example using "the", the problem seems to be that the relative clause neither adds information nor defines.

"the" would only work if there was a clear contrast which allowed the name to become a definition. Compare eg a "Trivial Pursuit" question like :
What was the previous name of the place which is (now) called Zimbabwe.

I think .... but it's the product of a half hour siesta after a rather large lunch. Does it make sense?
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Unread Dec 19th, 2008, 12:53 pm
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Default Re: "I visited the place which is Korea."

Hello susan53,

In general your exlanations are pretty clear, but 1) either I do not understand everything or 2) they contradict what "A Practical English Grammar" (A.J.Tompson, A.V. Martinet) reads:

(p.19) "The definite article is used before a noun made definite by the addition of a phrase or clause: the girl in blue, the boy that I met, the man with the banner, the place where I met him.
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Unread Dec 20th, 2008, 02:37 am
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Default Re: "I visited the place which is Korea."

Hi Tanialoves,

Sorry - I'm not sure what your question is? Are you saying "so how can we add a defining phrase or clause after the indefinite article?" Let me know exactly what you mean and I'll post an answer - apologies in advance if it's late (i'm about to get caught up in Xmas) but it will arrive.

I haven't seen a copy of T+M for about 25 years - I don't know if it's been updated, but if not you'll find it has a very "traditional" (structural) and simplistic view of grammar which has in many areas been revised (many apologies to T+M if they have in fact updated it. But you can check - does it tell you some is used in affirmative statements and any in negatives and questions? Or that used to is only used in the "simple past"? If so, I'd suggest a change of grammar!
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