Dave told me about his new hobby, _____ very much.

Which one of the following options is correct:
(1) which he’s enjoying
(2) that he’s enjoying
(3) he’s enjoying it
(4) he’s enjoying

I can't tell the difference between 1,2 and 4. I would have guessed they are all correct, but test tells that only one is correct. My only clue is the comma in the sentence. Would we put comma if we choose 3 ? What would you guess is the right answer?

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The presence of the comma makes a big difference.

  1. Dave told me about his new hobby, which he's enjoying very much. Here the comma marks the following relative clause as non-restrictive—that is, it doesn't define which new hobby he's talking about but adds some new information about it. If the comma were not present the clause would be restrictive—it would be intended to distinguish this new hobby from other new hobbies Dave has taken up.

  2. Dave told me about his new hobby, that he's enjoying very much. The comma has the same significance, but in this case the sentence is ungrammatical because that can be used as a relativizer only with restrictive clauses. A wh- relativizer must be used with non-restrictive clauses.

  3. Dave told me about his new hobby, he's enjoying it. Here you have two independent clauses separated only by a comma. In formal writing this is deprecated (it's called a 'comma splice'), but it's fairly common in speech and is acceptable with writing which emulates casual speech.

  4. Dave told me about his new hobby, he's enjoying. This looks like two comma-spliced independent clauses; if that were the case it would be ungrammatical, because enjoy is a transitive verb and requires a Direct Object. He's enjoying is probably meant to be a relative clause with the relativizer which would stand for the missing Direct Object omitted (some linguists say that the 'null relativizer' is employed). This is permitted, but only in restrictive clauses; so either the comma must be deleted too, making he's enjoying a restrictive clause, or which must be inserted, yielding the same non-restrictive relative you have in sentence 1. With the restrictive sense we'd ordinarily say Dave told me about the new hobby he's enjoying; but using his is not entirely unidiomatic, just fairly rare.


Personally I would have picked the first one because it makes most sense. You should see the comma as a place where you rest in a sentence, so it would be; "David told me about his new hobby, ........ which he's enjoying".

The second one does not really work. "David told me about his new hobby, that he's enjoying". It would work better if the sentence was "David told me about the new hobby that he's enjoying".

Then there is the third one, which does sound good with a break, but it should be a full stop; "David told me about his new hobby. He's enjoying it." You can see this because the way the sentence is started is with 'He's', which is pointing at David and not at his hobby, which means it has a different subject and thus is a different sentence.

Last but not least, number 4. This one just simply does not make sense in this context. "...his new hobby he's enjoying". To let that make sense it would be "David told me about the new hobby he's enjoying".

It is rather difficult to explain, because I do this mostly on feeling.

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