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How is the best way to compose a complex sentence with the word "which" as the subject of main and dependent clause?

How about this sentence?

  • Which road to take is very crucial, because that will make the whole difference.

How about this one?

  • Which place to go for our Spring break should be decided soon, which can be hard since every person wants to go to different places.
  • Do you have an example of a sentence you are trying to compose in this manner? – Jim Nov 26 '13 at 5:04
  • @Jim: Which road to take is very crucial, because that will make the whole difference. – rusticmystic Nov 26 '13 at 5:06
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    Which cannot be the (head of the) subject of a main clause in any way that I can think of. It can modify one, but it cannot be one itself. – Cerberus Nov 26 '13 at 5:07
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    @Cerberus Which is what it's all about. – Kris Nov 26 '13 at 5:27
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    Your sentence is fine grammatically. I'm not sure it really fits your criteria though. I'd also change "that will make the whole difference" to "that will make all the difference." It's slightly more idiomatic that way. – Jim Nov 26 '13 at 5:35
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How is the best way to compose a complex sentence with the word "which" as the subject of main and dependent clause?

I'm not sure what is being asked here. Must the word "which" be by itself the whole subject? And must the same sentence be using "which" for both the subject of its main clause and for a dependent clause?

Anyway, this might help: a main interrogative clause using the word "which" as its subject,

  • "Which will be better?"
  • "Which will be the better choice?"

though, those examples do not have a dependent clause in them.

Perhaps a supplementary clause could be added,

  • "Which will be the better choice, which hopefully won't cause us regrets later on?"

If the comma in that last example was deleted then that would change the supplementary clause into an integrated clause. That would give us,

  • "Which will be the better choice which hopefully won't cause us regrets later on?"

That interrogative clause, with the integrated relative clause, seems to be using a "which" as subject of a main clause and also a "which" as subject of a dependent clause.

If a declarative clause is expected as an answer, then that might be a bit harder. Maybe a supplementary clause as a separate sentence might be acceptable?

For instance, using an example out of the textbook by Huddleston and Pullum et al., A Student's Introduction to English Grammar (2005), page 189,

Integrated relatives function as dependent -- more specifically, modifier -- within the construction containing them, but supplementary relatives are attached more loosely, and indeed may constitute a separate sentence, as in [15] (where, again, which has a clause as antecedent):

[15]

  • A: Our rent is due next week.

  • B: Which is why we shouldn't be going out to dinner tonight.

(Note that "A" and "B" are two different speakers.) Using their example, perhaps consider the sentence,

  • "Which will be why we won't be going out to dinner tonight, which should have been obvious to you all along."

or

  • "Which will be why we won't be going out to dinner tonight, which is the only night I have free all month."

And if the comma in that last example was deleted, that would give us,

  • "Which will be why we won't be going out to dinner tonight which is the only night I have free all month."

That declarative clause seems to be using a "which" as subject of its main clause, and also a "which" as subject of a dependent clause.

If you are using a traditional grammar or a modern grammar that wouldn't accept that last example, because it wouldn't consider that relative clause to be "restrictive" in function, then perhaps consider,

  • "Which will be why we won't be going out to dinner tonight at that new restaurant which just opened down the street."

.

These are just some thoughts. Hopefully they will provide some useful info for you.

  • Thanks. Any specific pattern in your aforementioned textbook? – rusticmystic Nov 27 '13 at 23:04
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I challenge myself a little, trying to answer this question the best I can.

Please be aware that I am neither a native speaker, nor a grammarian. So some information might be a bit off, though I believe that it is correct in most part. (Actually, I just have an urge to pick up some grammar books since a couple of days ago. Before then, most of grammatical terminologies seem to me like some aliens from another galaxy. LOL. Fortunately, I have a few things to compensate my grammatical illiteracy. The most important ones are the ability to parse sentences, and the love of reading and listening. I am grateful that my parents pushed me to read a lot of books in my childhood.)

After consulting a handful of references (both books and the web), I agree with Cerberus' comment. I couldn't think of any single sentence that uses which, which is a relative pronoun, as the subject of the main clause.

But it is quite common to use "which" as the subject of the dependent clause (aka subordinate clause). The second example in your question has one of such usage. All other "which"'s in your examples are determiners.

It might be clearer to discuss them one by one.

Which road to take is very crucial, because that will make the whole difference.

The "which" in which road is a determiner used to describe the road to take.

Which place to go for our Spring break should be decided soon, which can be hard since every person wants to go to different places.

The first "which" in which place is also a determiner, similar to the which road above. The second "which" here is a relative pronoun used as the subject of the dependent (or subordinate) clause.

Hope this helps.

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