When Casals laid eyes on cello music he never knew existed....

I thought the verb 'existed' belongs to the antecedent, 'cello music', and 'he never knew' is just an embedded clause in the sentence. So the sentence could be 'When Casal laid eyes on cello music which/that he never knew existed...'. Is that correct?

Here, I need an explanation. I've learned relative pronouns as subject cannot be omitted. If it is right, how is it possible to omit 'which' or 'that' in that sentence? Shouldn't I put 'which' or 'that' in the sentence? If the relative pronoun 'which' cannot be put between 'cello music' and 'he never knew existed', the clause 'he never knew existed' has two main verbs, which looks like a pretty weird sentence to me...

Please help me figure out how this sentence works. Thanks.

  • possible duplicate of Are there rules about using "that" to join two clauses? – tchrist Mar 17 '15 at 2:19
  • @tchrist I know what you're trying to say.. but if there's no missing relative pronoun, could you explain more on that clause, "he never knew existed"? Thank you very much. – cellardoor Mar 17 '15 at 2:46
  • 1
    The moved/deleted/changed pronoun that (which has been left out of cello music [that] he never knew existed), is indeed a subject. It is the subject of existed. But the existed clause is not the relative clause; it's the complement clause of knew. The verb of the relative clause is knew, and the subject of knew is he, and the rule says that you can't delete the subject of the relative clause -- not that you can't delete something that's a subject in a lower clause. – John Lawler Mar 17 '15 at 2:51
  • @JohnLawler Interesting! Your explanation is very different from what other people said... So the deleted pronoun,that is a subject, but the pronoun is not a relative pronoun as a subject. Is that correct? Then how that .... existed clause acts as a complement clause of knew? Can you give me more examples of the divided(I don't know what to call it) clause, like that....existed? Can I use_which_ instead of that or only_that_ should be used? I really appreciate your helping me. – cellardoor Mar 17 '15 at 3:22
  • 1
    Relative clause formation takes a noun phrase that's coreferential to the noun the clause is modifying (Bill saw the man. Mary knows the man) changes it to a relative pronoun and moves it to the front of the clause --> Bill saw the man that Mary knew). Relative clause formation can extract a noun phrase from indefinitely far down the clause trail: the man that Bill said Mary wanted me to get to know better extracts that from its original position as the direct object of know. That's an object; here's a subject: the man that Bill said Mary wanted to plow the driveway. – John Lawler Mar 17 '15 at 3:46

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.