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I am having a disagreement about the validity of the following usage of "among which":

The movie won several awards, among which the best documentary and the best short film.

Is this sentence grammatical or must "among which" introduce a clause?

  • Interesting question! It seems wrong to me as well. It vaguely reminds me of some similar word in French, but I can't remember which specifically. Can you tell us any more about the person who disagrees with you? – herisson Oct 15 '15 at 1:09
  • Sorry, I am trying to avoid taking a side to remain neutral. What would you want to know about the person who disagrees with me? – Reinstate Monica Oct 15 '15 at 1:19
  • I'm wondering about if you or your friend are native speakers, and what variety of English you speak/where you're from (American English, British English, Australian English, etc.). – herisson Oct 15 '15 at 1:35
  • @sumelic One of us is a native English speaker. The other of us is an Eastern European who studied British English and is fluent in English. – Reinstate Monica Oct 15 '15 at 1:39
  • One can argue that the example uses simple word elision (of the word "are"), which English is relatively tolerant of. However, it's not a standard form of such elision and arguably serves no useful purpose (ink isn't that expensive). Therefore, it's at best an example of very questionable grammar. (One can also argue that "among which" has merely been substituted for "including", in which case one is forced to ask why "including" was not used instead.) – Hot Licks Oct 15 '15 at 3:00
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The sentence would read better as "The movie won several awards, among them Best Documentary and Best Short Film."

As it is now, which would have to be followed by a verb (in this scenario, were), and the result is a comparatively awkward sentence: "The movie won several awards, among which were Best Documentary and Best Short Film."

I think the reason for this is that which is a relative pronoun used to introduce a relative clause. Clauses must have verbs, so in your original example the sentence feels unfinished: "among which the best documentary and best short film..." Were what? We need an action.

Them, on the other hand, is a simple pronoun, so it doesn't create a relative clause like which does. Therefore, we can end the sentence with the appositive phrase, "among them Best Documentary and Best Short Film."

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    Thank you for answering my question. Could you explain why "which" should be followed by a verb? – Reinstate Monica Oct 15 '15 at 1:22
  • Because which refers syntactically to a 'gap', a missing constituent in the clause it heads. Omitting the verb means that the first gap the interpreter encounters will be that which the verb ought to occupy, thus implying that which stands for the verb. – StoneyB on hiatus Oct 15 '15 at 1:57
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    I think a simpler reason would be that "which" is a relative pronoun used to introduce a relative clause. Clauses must have verbs, so in your original example the sentence feels unfinished: "among which the best documentary and best short film were..." Were what? We need an action. – Jessica Oct 15 '15 at 16:12
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    "Them," on the other hand, is a simple pronoun, so it doesn't create a relative clause like "which" does. Therefore, we can end the sentence with the appositive phrase, "among them Best Documentary and Best Short Film." – Jessica Oct 15 '15 at 16:18
  • That is a good explanation. Perhaps it should be part of your answer. – Reinstate Monica Oct 15 '15 at 18:32

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