1

Please consider the following sentence:

"Will I be satisfied with the depth of relationship that I have with each member of the team?"

Does the word "that" refer to "the depth of relationship" as a whole, or does it refer to the word "relationship" only?

i.e. is it:

"Will I be satisfied with (the depth of relationship) that I have with each member of the team?"

or is it

"Will I be satisfied with the depth of (relationship that I have with each member of the team)?"

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  • Welcome to EL&U SE. Have you looked at pronouns and determiners in English?
    – BiscuitBoy
    Dec 18 '15 at 12:14
  • 2
    @BiscuitBoy Wouldn't help because that isn't a pronoun or determiner here ;) Dec 18 '15 at 12:31
  • Sorry for the faux pas! In the grand scheme of things, they are important <*removes shades and grins sheepishly*>:P
    – BiscuitBoy
    Dec 18 '15 at 12:47
  • Can you link the source of the sentence or post a name of the book? Did you write it yourself?
    – user140086
    Dec 18 '15 at 12:47
2

"that" refers, in this case, to whatever is defined by the preceding article. In your original sentence "the" comes before "depth of relationship". Hence "that" refers to the depth of relationship.

It is possible to change the sentence very slightly and make it refer to the relationship only, by adding an article to "relationship":

Will I be satisfied with the depth of the relationship that I have with each member of the team?

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  • Small point, Andy: the article is not part of the antecedent. Relative clauses modify nouns or nominal, but not noun phrases. So it's modifying just "depth of relationship".
    – BillJ
    Dec 18 '15 at 17:06
  • @BillJ - If I've understood you correctly, my edit fixes your point. Let me know if I've misunderstood.
    – AndyT
    Dec 18 '15 at 17:12
  • @Bill J I can find quite a few comments of the form 'Typically, a relative clause modifies a noun or noun phrase...' on various sites. I think you'd better (1) specify which definition of ''noun phrase' you're using, (2) state which school of grammar you're championing, (3) give a reason why you think that others aren't equally valid here. Dec 18 '15 at 22:11
  • @Edwin Ashworth This is all about basic constituent structure. The unit intermediate between a noun phrase and the noun, called a 'nominal', is the constituent that a relative clause modifies. A nominal includes modifiers, but excludes determiners. Thus in the NP "A young woman", the nominal is just "young woman".
    – BillJ
    Dec 18 '15 at 23:28
  • @Bill J From the Wikipedia article on Nominal group (functional grammar): << In systemic functional grammar (SFG), a nominal group is a group of words which expresses an entity, for example "The nice old English police inspector who was sitting at the table is Mr Morse". Grammatically here, "The nice old English police inspector who was sitting at the table" functions as a nominal group >> Does this concur with your usage? It doesn't seem to. Note the claim that the terminology is functional-grammar specific. Dec 19 '15 at 15:26

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