Can I remove who were in the sentence below?

The park was empty except for a group of elderly people who were stretching, jogging, and doing Tai Chi

Is it still grammatical?


2 Answers 2


It works fine without who were, because those words have no effect on your list nor the preceeding clause. Let's break it down...

who confirms it's the elderly people performing the listed activities, but this can safely be excluded, because there is no doubt; we already know it's the group of elderly people performing these activities, because they are the only subjects listed. A subject is whom, or what does something. In this case, who is a pronoun that confirms whom the subject is. If multiple subjects existed in the sentence it would be important to confirm which subject is tied to the list, but in this case there is only one subject so it doesn't matter.


A subject is the noun, pronoun [...], or set of words that performs the verb

were is just a past tense form of be, which is a verb. The only reason it was in the sentence to begin with was to uphold the past tense for who; "who" did what, "who" does what, "who" is doing what. Who is a pronoun, so it takes on the same requirements as the original subject, and because the park was empty it means the subject, the group of elderly people, they were in the park, as opposed to they are in the park, or they will be in the park.


a word that takes the place of a noun

Ref: http://www.grammarbook.com/grammar/pronoun.asp


words that tell us what a subject does or is

  • Please support your answer with sources. That makes your answer stronger, and more likely to be viewed as correct. Otherwise it's only opinion. The site tour and the help center will give you guidance on how to use this site. Oct 22, 2014 at 2:34

Yes, it is still grammatical. This is simply a reduced relative clause/adjective clause. It is understood that the "stretching, jogging, and doing Tai Chi" was in the past, due to the main clause being in the simple past.

  • 1
    I don't think tense has anything to do with it. Oct 22, 2014 at 2:35
  • @medica: Yup. The park is empty, except for a group of elderly people stretching, jogging, doing Tai Chi, and browsing EL&U.
    – Drew
    Oct 22, 2014 at 3:04

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