I got this line from the film About Time when the female character is describing the first meeting with her boyfriend Rupert at a party:

A living hell from which Rupert, thank God, rescued me.

I can understand what she meant, which is that the party was a living hell and Rupert rescued her. But I’m pretty unsure sure about the part from which.

Does it just mean he rescued her from the living hell, or does it mean something else?

If she had said:

Rupert rescued me from the living hell.

I would have completely gotten the meaning, but that from which puzzles me.

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    You could also strand the preposition and say a living hell that Rupert rescued me from, but actually the name for this phenomenon is Pied-Pipiing, a syntactic rule applied to relative clauses, which optionally moves prepositions of which relative pronouns are objects along with the pronouns to the beginning of a relative clause. Aug 18, 2015 at 2:14
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    thank you so much for all your corrections and the explanation. now i got my thing very clear although i had the same problem about the phenomenon used in your comment again. this is really complicated to understand..
    – Jinook Lee
    Aug 18, 2015 at 3:22
  • If you think about the clauses and how they're related, it's not so bad. The troublesome part is learning the particular characteristics of every predicate that takes a complement -- like the fact that believe takes those two kinds of complements, though other verbs take a different set. That's tedious, like prepositions after verbs and article usage; all of these things take a long time to get good at, because there are so many patterns. Aug 18, 2015 at 13:45

3 Answers 3


It comes from the rule that one must never end a sentence with a preposition. It is a well known construction that appears frequently, especially from careful writers who understand English grammar. It could have Been more awkwardly and ungrammatically written, "A living Hell, which Rupert, thank God, rescued me from."

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    This "rule" is no rule at all. There is nothing grammatically wrong with ending a sentence with a preposition, though stylistically many may object to it.
    – choster
    Aug 18, 2015 at 14:46

An adjective clause is always a reduced independent clause, with the word "which" or "that" (or "who," "whom," etc.) replacing a noun in the main clause. So in this case, the adjective clause is

"from which Rupert, thank God, rescued me."

If we turn this around, more in line with the original clause and using every word in the reduced clause, it says

"Rupert, thank God, rescued me from it," with it being the living hell in the original sentence.

So, for example, you could have two sentences such as "I love my little dog. He is the light of my life." And if you reduce the second one, it becomes "I love my little dog, who is the light of my life," with who replacing he in the first sentence.


It is a simple relative clause as in "the city I come from" or "the city from which I come". If you have problems with such relative clauses you should study them in a grammar.

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