Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

In this sentence

Green tea contains the vitamins and healthy properties of the green tea leaf, which makes green tea popular among health-conscious people.

what is the "which" referring to?? Is it referring to the green tea leaf or the vitamins and healthy properties?

share|improve this question

2 Answers 2

The way I read it, which refers to the whole phrase: not the leaf, nor the properties and vitamins, but to the assertion that green tea contains these things. Admittedly, it's a little ambiguous.

I have seem examples where there would be a noun or noun-phrase after the which to clarify the writer's meaning:

Green tea contains the vitamins and healthy properties of the green tea leaf, which fact makes green tea popular among health-conscious people.

Or that could be rewritten as

... green tea leaf, a fact which ...

share|improve this answer
    
The fact that the verb is makes, not make, shows that you are correct. It's not ambiguous, just a little unexpected. –  TimLymington Apr 18 '13 at 12:24
1  
Yes, the clue here is in the word makes, which must refer to a singular noun, and how, you might ask, could the leaf make the tea popular all by itself? But it's the sort of thing you have to read a couple of times to convince yourself that you've read it the right way. –  njd Apr 18 '13 at 12:58

I believe it refers to the entire clause, or you could think of it as an implied noun:

Green tea contains the vitamins and healthy properties of the green tea leaf, (a fact) which makes it popular.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.