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.

Consider the following sentence:

Please return the box back to the address from which you have received it.

Is the last it absolutely necessary? If not, what is the recommended style? Google seems to return both instances.

share|improve this question

1 Answer 1

up vote 5 down vote accepted

Yes, the last it is necessary for the sentence to make grammatical sense.

Receive, when applied to specific objects (like the box), is transitive, so it needs an object to be acted upon. You receive the box; "the box" is nicknamed it (for the purposes of this sentence; this is called anaphora), hence you receive it.

That said, it sounds much better to me to reword it:

Please return the box to the address it came from.

share|improve this answer
1  
Right. Which refers to the address, so it can't refer to the box. And receive does not allow its object to be deleted (or "understood"). –  John Lawler Jul 7 '12 at 2:37
1  
Back and which are superfluous and (I think) unnatural in that rewording; I think "Please return the box to the address it came from" is significantly better. –  jwpat7 Jul 7 '12 at 6:30
    
@jwpat7 Yup, edited. –  Daniel Jul 7 '12 at 14:21

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.