Saturday, February 18, 2012

Reduced relative clauses - lesson and exercises

Reduced relative clauses are participle clauses which follow a noun. They are like relative clauses, but with the relative pronoun and auxiliary verb (if there is one) left out.
Because they modify nouns, (reduced) relative clauses are occasionally referred to as adjective clauses.
Reduced relative clauses are used most often instead of defining relative clauses, which are what we'll be mainly looking at.
This post is an expanded version of part of a longer post on participles and participle clauses.

Look at these reduced relative clauses using participles

1.Who is that man waving at us?
2.Most of those trying to get tickets were unsuccessful.
3.All the workers made redundant last month have now been found new jobs.
4.The money being collected will go to help a new orphanage

Preliminary exercise Now make full relative clauses using who or which and the verb be

1. Who is that man waving at us?
2.Most of those trying to get tickets were unsuccessful.
2. All the workers made redundant last month have now been found new jobs.
4. The money being collected will go to help a new orphanage.

Basic principles for making reduced relative clauses

1. We can only make reduced relative clauses when the relative pronoun is the subject of the relative clause.

  • Active
  • That woman who is talking to my wife is our local Member of Parliament.
    That woman talking to my wife is ...
  • That woman who my wife is talking to is our local Member of Parliament.
    NOT That woman my wife talking to is ...
  • Passive
  • The man who is being taken away by the police is our neighbour.
    The man being taken away by the police...

2. Active tenses are replaced with a present participle (-ing form). Note that the present participle can replace various active tenses, not only present continuous

  • Anyone wanting a ticket for the Final see me.
    (who wants - present simple)
  • The train now arriving at Platform 3 is the 4.20 to Paddington
    (which is now arriving - present continuous)
  • Teams completing the first round go into the quarter-finals.
    (which have completed - present perfect)
  • People arriving late were not allowed in until the interval.
    (who arrived - past simple)

3. Passive tenses are replaced by the past participle (-ed forms) and being + past participle. When I say -ed forms, I'm including irregular form such as seen, broken etc.

The past participle replaces passive simple forms while the being form replaces passive continuous forms
  • The student chosen as winner will get a prize.
    (that is chosen - present simple)
  • The progress made yesterday will give us a head start.
    (which was made - past simple)
  • None of the models inspected so far have passed the test.
    (that have been inspected) - present perfect
  • The saplings being planted today will one day grow into huge trees.
    (which are being planted - present continuous)

Practice 1

Note - changing 'a, an' to 'the'

In these two exercises all the reduced relative clauses are defining ones, so any indefinite articles (a, an) inside the relative clause would usually change to definite ones (the). But this doesn't affect indefinite articles outside the relative clause. For example:
  • A car was being driven by a young man - the car crashed into a tree.
  • The car which was being driven by the young man crashed into a tree.
  • The car being driven by the young man crashed into a tree.
There is one question in each of Ex 1a and Ex 1b where, for the sake of the exercise, you should change 'a' to 'the', although technically 'a' might also be possible.

Exercise 1a - match the sentence halves and complete the sentences below using a present (-ing) participle. Don't add any punctuation.

1. Some employees have to work lateaShe moved to Australia
2. A doctor lived in this house before usbShe caught a shoplifter
3. Some doctors attended a conference on malariacThey will be provided with taxis
4. A blonde woman is wearing a dark suitdThey urged governments to act
5. Several roads lead to the city centreeThey were all closed for the parade
6. A woman runs the local shopfShe is the new boss
1. Employees .
2. The doctor .
3. Doctors .
4. The blonde woman .
5. All roads .
6. The woman .

Exercise 1b - match the sentence halves and complete the sentences below using a present (-ing) or past (-ed etc) participle. Don't add any punctuation.

1. A driver has been stopped by the policeaHe is going out with my sister
2. A dog was hit by our neighbour's carbIt is not seriously hurt
3. A young man is playing the guitarcHe was three times over the legal limit
4. A lorry overturned on the motorwaydHe was nearly knocked down by a bus
5. A horse is being ridden by a jockey in blueeIt caused two lanes to be closed
6. An elderly man was crossing the streetfIt is the odds-on favourite to win
1. The driver .
2. The dog .
3. The young man .
4. A lorry .
5. The horse .
6. An elderly man .

We can't use a reduced relative clause:

1. when the event or action in the defining relative clause comes before the event or action in the main clause.

  • Trees which fell in the storm have been removed.
  • Trees falling in the storm have been removed.
unless it is the cause of the event or action in the main clause:
  • Trees which fell in the storm have resulted in several accidents.
  • Trees falling in the storm have resulted in several accidents.

2. with active single completed actions

  • The boy who fell off his bicycle broke his leg.
    The boy falling off his bicycle broke his leg.
  • But we can use a reduced relative clause with passive single completed actions
  • The boy who was knocked off his bicycle broke his leg.
    The boy knocked off his bicycle broke his leg.

3. In passive sentences when:

  • a. there is a noun (or as here, a pronoun) between the relative pronoun and the verb:
  • It was the way in which he was sacked that particularly shocked me.
    NOT the way in which he sacked ...
  • b. when there is a modal other than will in the defining relative clause
    The students who will be selected tomorrow will be offered a scholarship
    The students selected tomorrow will be ...

    The students who should be selected are those that have worked the hardest.
    NOT The students selected tomorrow are those ...

Practice 2

Exercise 2 - Complete the sentences with a verb from the first box in participle form together with an expression from the second.

find · chat · stand · pile out · wag · be involved · play · be most interested
in the robbery · with the yoyo · on the phone · of the cinema · on the street
its tail · at the bus stop · in buying
1. The woman was in a hurry so she hailed a taxi.
2. I think the dog is a Jack Russel.
3. The crowds looked very happy.
4. The people our house were the Joneses.
5. The men have all been arrested.
6. The wallet was handed in to the police.
7. The girl over there is the new secretary.
8. The young boy is my brother.
Note - we also seem to be able to reduce relative clauses which include adjectives formed from past participles, like involved and interested when they follow the verb to be.

Other ways of shortening relative clauses

1. Omitting the -ing form when it is followed by a prepositional phrase

  • We can omit the present participle when it is followed by a prepositional phrase:
  • The people who were sitting at the back couldn't hear.
    The people sitting at the back couldn't hear.
    The people at the back couldn't hear.
  • We can also do this when the verb in the relative clause is be and no participle is involved:
  • The man who is in that big black car is the President of Erewhon.
    The man in that big black car is the President of Erewhon.

2. Remember that when the relative pronoun is the object of a defining relative clause, we can omit (leave out) who, which or that.

  • The children (who) I taught all became geniuses. - direct object
  • This is the hotel (which) I was telling you about. - object of the preposition about
  • They're going to have to sell the house (that) they bought only a year ago. - direct object
A bit of grammar jargon - These structures are sometimes known as having a zero relative pronoun, and the resulting clause is occasionally called a contact clause
Although these are certainly relative clauses which have been reduced (shorthened), they are not what we normally refer to in EFL as reduced relative clauses, which involve one very basic principle:
As well as the relative pronoun being left out, the verb of the relative clause, including any auxiliary, is replaced by an -ing or -ed (etc) participle.

Practice 3

Exercise 3 - Rewrite the sentences, where possible replacing the underlined relative clauses with their shortest possible forms. Enter them into the boxes, as in the example.

  • Use a reduced relative clause where possible
  • If you can omit the participle altogether, do so. (1 question)
  • If you can't use a reduced relative clause but can omit the relative pronoun, do so.
  • If you can do none of these, enter the original clause (1 question).
0.The people who are crossing the street are trying to get a better view.
The people crossing the street are trying to get a better view.
1.The woman who is talking to your mother is my aunt.
2.The man who is standing by the window is my uncle.
3.All those who do not need to buy tickets please go straight in.
4.The first vineyard which I ever saw was in Germany.
5.Wikipedia, which was launched in 2001, is one of the great internet successes.
6.Animals which share the savannah include wildebeest and gazelles.
7.All the candidates who were selected were given a second interview.
8.All those who passed the test were given a second interview.
9.LOL, which stands for Laughing Out Loud, is now in the OED.
10.The bouquet was made from flowers which were grown locally.
11.This the man who I was talking to you about.
12.The man who won yesterday's lottery lives next door.

And what about non-defining relative clauses?

We sometimes also use reduced non-defining relative clauses. In fact there were two in that last exercise, Questions 5 and 9.
  • Peter, (who was) concentrating on his work, didn't hear the doorbell.
  • The young woman, (who was) living abroad at that time, didn't see her family very often.
  • The book, (which was) first published in 1970, has sold over a million copies.
  • Martha, (who was) brought up in the inner city, had never seen a cow before.
But very often we use an adverbial participle clause instead.
  • Concentrating on his work, Peter didn't hear the doorbell.
  • Living abroad at that time, the young woman didn't see her family very often.
  • First published in 1970, the book has sold over a million copies.
  • Brought up in the inner city, Martha had never seen a cow before.
We can omit the relative pronoun and the verb be when they are followed by descriptive noun phrases. These can include adverbial expressions like now, then, already etc.
  • Peter Donaldson, (who is) our manager, graduated in chemical engineering.
  • Last year's prize was won by Jenny MacDonald, (who was) at that time still a student.
  • Glasgow, (which is) the largest city in Scotland, lies on the River Clyde.
  • One of Glasgow's jewels is the Merchant City, (which is) now a thriving cultural district.
For more information and practice on adverbial participle clauses sees my post here.

Reduced Relative clauses and the Internet

I've found several problems with the way Reduced Relative clauses are treated on the Internet.
1. Only continuous active tenses? - Several websites suggest that we can only reduce relative clauses if they are in the continuous active, or in the passive. But as we have seen, we can also make reduced relative clauses from simple tenses and sometimes even from perfect tenses.
  • The athlete who has won the most races is chosen as the Victor Ludorum.
    The athlete winning the most races is chosen as the Victor Ludorum.
2. There is/are ? - One video on YouTube suggests that the following constructions are reduced relative clauses:
  • Are there dogs walking around outside
  • Is there a car parked next to mine
Because we might (according to the teacher) say:
  • Are there dogs which are walking around outside?
  • Is there a car which is parked next to mine?
But the problem is that we simply wouldn't. These are not natural sentences, and it is highly unlikely that a native speaker would ever utter them.
The there is/are construction is often followed by a participle clause, as are verbs of perception, like see and hear, but this has nothing to do with Relative clauses. You can read more about these constructions in my post on participles and participle clauses.
  • There is somebody having a party upstairs.
  • There are some boys playing in the street.
  • I saw a young boy throwing a stone at the window.
  • I could hear my sister singing in the bath.
A native speaker simply wouldn't use a relative pronoun in these sentences, so if it isn't a relative clause in the first place, we can hardly make it a reduced relative clause.

Wikipedia and the Garden Path effect

You can pretty well forget the Wikipedia entry on reduced relative clauses as being of any practical help in using them, but it does talk about an interesting but pretty rare phenomenon known as the garden path effect.
Firstly, Wikipedia's definition of reduced relative clause is different from that used in EFL, giving as its main example:
Relative clause The man who/that I saw was big.
reduced relative clause The man I saw was big.
In EFL, we understand this to be simply dropping the relative pronoun when it refers to the object of the following verb. This is not what we think of as a reduced relative clause, for reasons I talked about above.
The rest of the article does talk about the use of participles in reduced relative clauses, but is all about the 'garden path effect', where their use can occasionally cause ambiguities. Just for fun we'll have a quick look at this, but it's very unlikely you will ever have any problems of this nature.
Why garden path effect? - There is an idiom in English:
To lead someone up the garden path - to deceive somebody, to make them believe something which is not true
Wikipedia gives two examples of the garden path effect. How do you think these two sentences might continue?
  • The horse raced past the barn ...
  • The florist sent the flowers ...
We would probably expect raced and sent to be normal verbs in the Past Simple, with the sentences continuing something like:
  • The horse raced past the barn and ran into a nearby field.
  • The florist sent the flowers to the address the customer had given her.
But raced and sent could also be past participles being used in reduced relative clauses with passive meaning, and with the sentences continuing in a different way:
  • The horse (which was) raced past the barn fell and its rider came off.
  • The florist (who was) sent the flowers was very happy to get them.
Part of the ambiguity is in the use here of the verb race, which could have two possible meanings:
  • To run very fast
  • To ride or drive something, for example a horse or car, very fast
And of course we'd normally expect a florist to send flowers rather than receive them.

Reference

Sources

  • Michael Swan - Practical English Usage (Oxford) GoogleBooks
  • Martin Hewings - Advanced Grammar in Use (Cambridge) GoogleBooks

Related posts

Links

Answers

25 comments:

abuahmad200012 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
abuahmad200012 said...

Thanks a lot and hope everyone is fine.

syn said...

I found this site very useful and instructive.

The given example sentence, "All the workers made redundant last month have now been found new jobs." should read without "been", shouldn't it? (I think the main verb should be in the active voice, not passive."

Can a reduced relative clause start with "having been", such as "The people having been laid off are all over 60"?

Warsaw Will said...

Hi Syn. Your first point first. That example could be active, but the meaning would be slightly different. I was thinking that either their previous employers or the Job Centre (the state-run employment agency) had found them jobs. But of course they could have found the jobs for themselves. So both active and passive would be correct here, depending on meaning.

Your second point's a little more difficult. The 'having done' structure implies one of two things: either that something happened first - 'Having finished his book, he turned on the TV' or a causal relationship - 'Having run out of beer, he went out to buy some more'. These are both adverbial functions, relating to an action, so 'having been' is usually found in adverbial participle clauses. It's also occasionally found after time words like 'after' - 'After having finished his degree, he took a gap year.'

See - http://random-idea-english.blogspot.com/2011/05/participles-and-participle-clauses.html.

A reduced relative clause, however, tells us something about a noun (phrase) - in your example the people, not an action - so 'having been' wouldn't make a lot of sense here. The natural sentence would be - The people laid off are all over 60

Remember in a reduced relative clause clause you have removed the pronoun and the auxiliary verb. One test would be to put them back - The people who were laid off are all over 60 - This wouldn't work with having been - The people who were having been laid off are all over 60.

So, I think the answer has to be no. You could have a (rather formal) sentence like The people, having been laid off, started to look for new jobs. But this wouldn't be a relative clause.

Warsaw Will said...

Hi again. I've been thinking about this a bit, and it occurs to me
that you could have an adverbial participle clause with having inside a relative clause (and subordinate) to it, or dependent on a reduced relative clause. As long as it has one of the meanings I talked about.

Defining relative clause - There were a lot of people who, having been made redundant, were looking for work.

Reduced relative clause - There were a lot of people looking for work, having been made redundant.

syn said...

Hi, Warsaw Will.
Thank you for your intelligible explanation.

It didn't occur to me that the verb "find" is a double-object verb, so I thought the only possible passive sentence could be "New jobs have been found for them." Now I clearly see the point.

As for the second question, I was thinking only about a reduced relative clause and not the adverbial participle clause.


For example, should these two sentences below with the different tense in the relative clause, be rephrased into the same reduced relative clause?

a. "The people who have been laid off (so far) are all over 60"
b. "The people who were laid off are all over 60"

Warsaw Will said...

Hi - Yes, just as any active relative clause is reduced using the present participle (-ing form, any passive relative clause is reduced using the past participle. So the answer for both sentences would be:

"The people laid off (so far) are all over 60"

syn said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
syn said...

Thank you, that really blew away all the cobwebs from my brain.

Just one more question...

What if the original sentence is:
"I'll be talking to some children who are being bullied at school."

Would the reduced relative clause for this sentence be
(a) ...children bullied at school
or
(b) ...children being bullied at school?

Warsaw Will said...

Hi,
Technically I think, the version with 'being'. But I don't think it works - it sounds as though the children will be bullied while you're talking to them, and this is where it gets tough.

The construction doesn't seem to be the problem. These sentences sound fine to me:

The company are (BrE) / is (AmE) giving generous payments to the workers being laid off.

She's writing a book about children being bullied at school.

Now look at these sentences:

Children walking to school need to be extra careful.
People snoring at night can create problems for their partners.

But for me the following don't work:

She's giving a talk to children walking to school.
He's going to talk to people snoring at night.

At first I thought the problem lay in these being verbs denoting physical action, where we are used to an -ing form suggesting that it is happening right now. Here reducing the relative clause seems to work fine when it is modifying the subject of the main clause, but seems to cause problems when it is modifying the object, or as in your case, the object of a preposition.

At least that's what I was wondering at first, but then the following sentence seems just fine to me.

The police are having a crackdown on people throwing stones at demonstrations.

So the answer lies somewhere else, and I think it's the verb 'talk to'. When you use an -ing' participle after 'talk to', it sounds as though that activity is happening now.

Grammar books often introduce reduced relative clauses by saying something like 'Reduced relative clauses can often made from relative clauses'. In other words, it's not necessarily automatic. I can't give you a hard and fast rule why I don't think your example works, you just have to rely on instinct. But I would say that ambiguities are more likely to arise when the relative clause refers to something other than the subject of the main clause. And if in any doubt, don't reduce it.



Warsaw Will said...

Sorry - in that last paragraph it should of course say - 'Reduced relative clauses can often be made from relative clauses'

syn said...

Hmmm, it’s very intriguing.
For a non-native speaker of English like me (I’m Japanese), it’s hard to tell whether a sentence is correct/incorrect by just how it “sounds”, without a solid grammatical rule.
Your explanation and example sentences, though, gave me deep insight into what “reduced relative clauses” actually are. Thanks again.

syn said...

Sorry, I meant ",though," → ",however,"

Richard said...

why can i not say this; "He is the boy owning a porshe" but you can say "he is the boy wanting a porche"???????

Warsaw Will said...

I'll have to think about that one, but it looks as though it's something to do with actions and states. For example - "Who's that guy over there having lunch" (action) sounds fine, but "Who's that guy over there having a bald head" (state) doesn't work. On the other hand, "Was anything belonging to you stolen?" (state) does seem to work.

Grammar books usually say something like "A participle can often be used instead of a relative pronoun and full verb" (Michael Swan - Practical English usage - my emphasis), but don't go into much detail about when we can't use a participle, apart from the rules I gave in the post. I think sometimes you just have to go by what sounds natural. But I will try and come up with a more solid answer.

Ivan Fadeev said...

OK. You say that:

...But as we have seen, we can also make reduced relative clauses from simple tenses and sometimes even from perfect tenses.

The athlete who has won the most races is chosen as the Victor Ludorum.
The athlete winning the most races is chosen as the Victor Ludorum.
-------------
My question is:
If we are giving only this sentence "The athlete winning the most races is chosen as the Victor Ludorum." then we can interpret it in the two ways which you mention

1) The athlete who has won
2) The athlete who wins

Is it true? If yes, how do you know which one is implied?

Warsaw Will said...

Hi Ivan. Good point - perhaps I should have stressed the sometimes even - we can't do it very often.

That example is a special use of present perfect, to talk about a general rule, or about something specific in the future, rather than something which has already happened:

And at the end of the games, the athlete who has won the most races is chosen as the Victor Ludorum.

You could probably equally as well say who wins here, but after at the end of the race I personally prefer the present perfect version. Whichever one we use, we can reduce it to winning.

So in that example, the meanings of who has won and who wins is very close, similar to when we use present perfect in a future time clause:

We'll know more when we see/have seen the test results.

We can't use a reduced clause when we are using present perfect in the relative clause in its more usual function to talk about something that has already happened:

And now the athlete who has won the most races will be awarded a special prize. (NOT winning

But I think we can when it is the cause of the action which follows (just as we can with past simple):

The large amount of snow falling today has made conditions on the roads treacherous (= which has fallen)

There are some examples of this in Google Search, but I admit that they're not very common.

Ivan Fadeev said...

Thank you Will,

I understand that it has an implication of a future action only, like we have in:

The athlete winning the most races is chosen as the Victor Ludorum. (which will win...)
It's clear now. However, here is another issue. Let me make it clear.

1 People arriving late were not allowed in until the interval.

It's obvious that the action here is completed as they really arrived. But if we change the verb "arrive" to "read" then it feels like we have an ambiguity here. See.

2 People reading that magazine were asked to tell there opinion about it.

I see two ways to understand it

a) a completed action (People who read/had read that magazine ...)
b) an on-going action (People who were reading that magazine ...)

My question is:
DO you agree that "arrive" allows for two meanings even though only one is meant due to the context?
However, when "reading" is used, is it possible to see two meaning as well? Or is there ONLY one meaning to be there? Is it possible to understand it like "People who read that magazine..."?

I hope you see what I mean.

Warsaw Will said...

Hi Ivan,

First, let me confess to not being a grammar guru, but let's have a go, anyway. In your first example, I think there's really only one possibility for a full relative clause here - People who arrived late were not allowed in until the interval. - You could possibly also use a past perfect, but the meaning is essentially the same. And we wouldn't use a continuous here - arriving (in this sense) is not really a progressive activity.

In your second example, I also see two possible interpretations, but not exactly the same two as yours:

The market research company asked their respondents what magazine they read regularly. People reading The Economist were asked to give their opinion about it. = people who read (past simple) it regularly

Researchers then checked passengers travelling on the Metro. People reading The Economist were asked to give their opinion about it. = people who were reading it at that moment

Unlike arriving, however, reading is an ongoing process, and in this example, I don't think had read is a possible interpretation as there is no way we can deduce completion from the -ing participle. What's more, had read could mean once or a hundred times. If that's the meaning you want to convey I think you need to use the full relative clause - People who had read The Economist were asked to give their opinion about it..

It is in the nature of participles to sometimes be ambiguous, as they have no subject or tense. They get the their time reference from the verb that follows them, but sometimes you could interpret it as simple or continuous. I think context will usually tell you which it is, but there will be times when it's best to keep with the full relative clause, to avoid ambiguity.

judit marvi said...

Hi!
I find this blog very instructive!It's helping me a lot.
The only problem I have is that I cannot see the soluctions although I click on the buttons.
Can anyone help me?
Thanks!

Warsaw Will said...

Hi, Judit

I've just checked the buttons on this page and they seem to be working OK (at least in Firefox). You need to make sure that you have Javascript enabled on your browser. And remember that the buttons for the answers are at the bottom of the page. (I put them there so that it's not too tempting to 'cheat').

Let me know what browser you're using and I'll give it a quick check if I can.

Jane said...

Hi - your blog pages are great and I absolutely love the tasks. However there are a few glitches. Practice 1 Q 4 will not accept 'wearing a dark suit is the new boss' as the answer. In the same task Q5 needs a full stop to be considered correct. This is a little confusing. There are similar glitches with Exercise 1b Q5 which will not give me a correct answer. I am a native speaker teacher by the way!

Warsaw Will said...

Hi Jane, thanks for the kind comment. The principle behind Ex 1a Q4 and Ex 1b Q5 is the same, which I was expecting people (perhaps unrealistically) to change the second 'a' to 'the', which I think would be usual, ie The blonde woman wearing *the* dark suit, being ridden by *the* jockey in blue. You'll see what I mean by pressing the Answers buttons at the end of the post. But I agree that 'a' would be possible, and that this might not be very evident to students, so I'll have a think about it. Thanks for pointing it out. I tend to write just what comes naturally into my head without always realising there might be more than one possible answer.

As for the commas, I think it's not so much a matter of one missing, as one extra. The answers themselves shouldn't include any punctuation, and all the full stops are already provided. But I noticed that there was an extra one in the answer to Ex 1a Q6, so I've removed it.

Thanks again for your comments.

El Vecino de Polanski said...

Hi there! I'm Victor and I would like to know if this clauses I came up with could be defining relative clauses in a proper way:
"You can take a burger and a soda for 3 pounds, (which is) our best deal"

"He recorded the album in three days, (which is) such a record"

Warsaw Will said...

Hi Victor,

The two sentences with the 'which' clauses are fine, but these are not defining relative clauses (the comma is the give-away). They are a special type of non-defining relative clause sometimes called a sentential relative clause, because it refers to the whole sentence, not just to the noun immediately in front of it.

I think the first sentence works without 'which is',but I'm not so sure about the second.

"He recorded the album in three days, a record" would work, but with 'such' it's like an exclamation, so I'd probably start a new sentence - "Such a record!"

Here are a couple of non-defining relative clauses with 'which is' omitted:

"Glasgow, (which is) the largest city in Scotland, lies on the River Clyde.

"One of Glasgow's jewels is the Merchant City, (which is) now a thriving cultural district."

Whether these would be classified as 'reduced relative clauses' I'm not so sure.

Non-defining relative clauses