I have 2 sentences and I have to join both in a single sentence with a relative pronoun:

People visit CityA.
They love to ride the cable cars.

I am confused by the publisher of the question which states the below sentence to be the answer:

People who love to ride the cable cars visit CityA.

It seems to me that this answer has a different meaning from the question, and the below sentence is more appropriate instead:

People who visit CityA love to ride the cable cars.

Please advise.

  • 1
    It seems to me that you have correctly joined the sentences with a relative pronoun, and the question becomes one of logic rather than concerning how to use the pronoun (But for what it's worth, I think you're right).
    – Andrew Leach
    Oct 14, 2015 at 14:29
  • Whoever set the problem didn't specify which sentence should be the main clause and which one should be the relative clause. There's a difference; main clauses are normally asserted -- the speaker takes responsibility for the truth -- while relative clauses are presupposed, which means the speaker is not responsible for them being true. Perhaps you might look at where, instead of who: People visit CityA, where they love to ride the cable cars. Oct 14, 2015 at 17:14
  • I'd say that even 'People who visit City A love to ride the cable cars' has a different emphasis from the two-sentence original. I'd say 'People who visit City A generally love to ride the cable cars' has the same pragmatic thrust; two sentences allows a looser interpretation of 'they' than 'all of these'. Oct 14, 2015 at 19:19

3 Answers 3


I think the problem centers around the phrase "the cable cars." It would be helpful to know who published the book. In my experience, non-native speakers (and that means non-native publishers of English learning material) have troubles with "the." My gut feeling on this is that by "the cable cars" the publisher means "The city's cable cars," or "The cable cars operating in the city." I think the logic of the publisher is: "People visit city A, and when they do visit City A they love to ride City A's cable cars." This is my interpretation (based on my experience with non-native problems with "the") of what the publisher is thinking. Unless we ask, we cannot know.

I'm going to replace "City A" with "San Francisco" so this is easier to visualize:

People visit San Francisco. They love to ride San Francisco's cable cars. (I have replaced "the" with San Francisco.)

People who love to ride San Francisco's cable cars visit San Francisco.

This is still a bit wordy because we have "San Francisco" twice. You could clean it up thus: "People who love to ride San Francisco's cable cars visit the city." Alone, without context, the sentence is ambiguous because someone will ask "which city? you could mean any." In other words "People who love San Francisco's cable cars also visit this other city because the cable cars are similar." However, I think in an article about travel or cable car aficionados it would be clear.

In any case, it's still a can of worms. If I were writing an article about travel or cable car aficionados, I wouldn't use the sentence, or I would further define "the city." You can't really do that because it's an exercise in a textbook.

Without this interpretation, as others pointed out, the exercise is ambiguous.


Two sentences above can be split as follows.

a) People visit City A.
b) They love to ride the cable cars.

When we combine these two in a single sentence using a conjunction and pronoun, it would be like this below.

People visit City A and they love to ride the cable cars.

In other way, when we change this sentence into a relative pronoun clause, we can think the sentence would be 'People who love to ride the cable cars visit City A.'

Here, the clause(from 'who' to 'cars') leaded by 'who' is actually incomplete as the pronoun came to take a role of relative pronoun.

That's why I think the relative pronoun, who, modifies 'people' who like to ride the cable cars. Also, this is called defining relative clause which modifies a certain antecedent directly.


Cable cars?  That sounds like San Francisco. 

You have two sentences.  One happens to follow the other on the page.  In ordinary discourse, this may well be an informative and meaningful order. 

The publisher is not necessarily presenting these sentences as ordinary discourse.  Instead, they may simply be presented as two independent, unrelated clauses.  Establishing a relationship between these clauses is, quite literally, left as an exercise for the reader. 

Either one of the original clauses could be cast as a subordinate clause: 

  • People who love to ride cable cars visit San Francisco. 
  • People who visit San Francisco love to ride the cable cars. 

Both of these versions contain all the information that is contained in the original clauses.  Neither of them has exactly the same meaning as ordinary discourse using two separate, ordered sentences.  No matter which clause is made subordinate, the subordination creates an explicit relationship that does not exist between the two original independent clauses. 

The publisher chose one correct answer.  You happen to prefer another correct answer.  There exists a number of other correct answers.  For example: 

  • People that love to ride cable cars visit San Francisco. 
  • People such as those who visit San Francisco love to ride cable cars. 

It seems that you've inferred an implicit relationship between the independent clauses, and you've written a well-formed complex sentence that makes that relationship explicit.  It also seems that the publisher did not intend to imply the relationship that you've inferred.  Perhaps the publisher intended to make no implication of any relationship between the clauses. 

Here is my advice:  Consider the publisher's answer to be one correct answer.  Consider your answer to be another correct answer.  Consider that there may be dozens of other answers which are also correct. 

The relationship that you inferred is a sensible relationship.  In ordinary discourse, I would myself infer the same relationship on the basis of the ordering of the predicates.  To me, it is the most obvious implication, but it is not the only available implication and it need not be the intended implication. 


Your answer is right, but the publisher's answer isn't wrong.  Either clause can be made subordinate to the other with the use of an appropriate relative pronoun.

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