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Alex80 Feb 14th, 2021 07:44 am

The noun before a relative pronoun
Hi everyone.

In a textbook, I found the following:

* The hotel has a swimming pool. It is very big. (Combine with a relative clause)

The answer is: The hotel has a swimming pool that is very big.

Question 1: Why is there one answer? why can't we say it like this:

"The hotel that is big has a swimming pool ."?

Question 2: Is it true that the clause is defining(restrictive) because there is an indefinite article before the noun' a swimming pool'?

Or can we say that the pronoun "it" should refer to the part " the pool" not to the whole" the hotel"?

Alex80 Feb 15th, 2021 01:32 am

Re: The noun before a relative pronoun
Still waiting for a reply.:confused:

susan53 Feb 18th, 2021 04:57 am

Re: The noun before a relative pronoun
First of all, remember what I've said again and again. It's not a matter of rules but of meaning/context. Trying to combine the propositions (ideas) without knowing the context makes no sense. So for instance

a) If you mean The hotel has a very big swimming pool , then you could also say: The hotel has a swimming pool which is very big Here which (or that) refers to the swimming pool and defines a specific quality of the pool.

b) But look at the following:
A. There's a small hotel and a big one. They're both nice, but we prefer the big one.
B : Why?
A: Well, the small hotel is family run and very friendly, but the other one - the hotel that's bigger - has a lovely swimming pool.
This time, that (or which) refers to the hotel. Again it's defining and explains which of the two hotels I'm talking about.

So in your example : The hotel has a swimming pool. It is very big. the lack of context means that it's impossible to say what "it" refers to. (The hotel? Or the swimming pool?) And this is why you can't decide how to combine them. It depends entirely on what you want to say. The writer of the activity was obviously working on the assumption that, without a context, "it" should be understood as referring to the last singular noun - but if you add a context it wouldn't necessarily be true.

Whether it's defining or not has no connection with the article. Again it's a matter of meaning. Defining clauses explain (ie define) what/who exactly you're talking about. Non-defining clauses simply give extra information. For example, in what follows who lives in America defines which brother i'm now talking about:

A : Your brother David lives in America, doesn't he? And Anne told me he's a doctor.
B: No actually I have two brothers. My brother David lives in Scotland and he's a lawyer. My brother who lives in America is Steven. And yes, he's a doctor.

And compare it with:
She has a brother and a sister. The brother, who lives in Scotland, is called David and he's a lawyer.
This time it's not necessary to "define which brother" I'm talking about, because there's only one. Notice the commas, (which could also be parentheses or dashes, and would become a slight pause if spoken). They show that the clause is non-defining and just contains extra information about the referent. The relative clause could be taken out of the sentence and it would remain totally comprehensible.

Notice incidentally that that can only be used in defining relative clauses (as an alternative to which/who). In non-defining clauses that is impossible and which/who obligatory.

Alex80 Feb 19th, 2021 08:21 am

Re: The noun before a relative pronoun
"The hotel has a swimming pool that is very big."
Is this defining realtive clause " identifying" or " classifying?
Thank you very very much for helping me out.

susan53 Feb 22nd, 2021 07:01 am

Re: The noun before a relative pronoun
It's really closer to a non-defining clause, as it really just adds information. That's why I think that sounds a bit odd here - notice I've used which. It's a grey area. Again the problem is the lack of context. Compare it with.

The hotel has a swimming pool that's really big, and two others that are smaller.
Here the clauses are clearly defining as I'm distinguishing between them. Compare it with :
There are two types of camel. A camel that only has one hump is called a dromedary; the type that has two humps is called a bactrian. Here I seem to be classifying.

Quirk et al in A Grammar of Contemporary English point out though that relative clauses can refer either back to a) a definite person or thing - The man that took the money had red hair - in which case there's frequently a definite determiner, or b) forward - in which case the determiner is often indeterminate - A camel that only has one hump is called a dromedary.

In (a) you can take the relative clause out and the sentence remains comprehensible/correct - The man had red hair.
In (b) you can't do that : * A camel is called a dromedary.

This, I think, is where the distinction between definite and indefinite determiners is important. Not in the type of clause but whether the reference is backward (anaphoric) or forward (cataphoric).

That doesn't mean though that indefinite determiners are impossible in defining relative clauses with anaphoric reference :
Any book that you read will tell you the same thing
A girl that I know has just come into the room.

The sentences Any book will tell you the same thing / A girl has just come into the room are fine. It's a matter of frequency, not a rule - and as always, frequency depends on contexts.

Alex80 Feb 22nd, 2021 10:53 pm

Re: The noun before a relative pronoun
Got it.Thanks a bunch.

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