Can anyone tell me the correct order of post modifier?

For example:

  1. I don't want the kind of relationship with you that you have with grandmother.

  2. I don't want the kind of relationship that you have with grandmother with you.

Thank you.

1 Answer 1


Both are grammatical, but 2) is awkward and difficult to understand, so 1) is preferable.

Though 1) seems grammatically odd at first sight, it is allowed by extraposition.

  • If this is grammatical extraposition, it is by the skin of its teeth. The attraction of "with you" for grandmother (as in "take grandmother with you") makes the sentence almost unreadable. Perhaps it's saved by the spoken version, which would require a vocal emphasis on "I" and a significant pause before the final prepositional phrase.
    – deadrat
    Commented Jan 9, 2016 at 15:51
  • @deadrat, I don't understand what you are saying. You seem to be agreeing with me that 1) is preferable and 2) is difficult. I'm arguing that 1) would be anomalous but for extraposition. What am I missing?
    – Colin Fine
    Commented Jan 9, 2016 at 16:11
  • I keep going back and forth on whether 2) is acceptable at all.
    – deadrat
    Commented Jan 9, 2016 at 16:26
  • @Colin Fine I can't see any extraposition in either example (extraposition has dummy "it" as subject). In 1. the with phrase is in its 'normal' position next to the noun it modifies, and putting the 'heavy' material, i.e. the that clause, at the end of the sentence makes it easy to process. But 2. looks like an example of postposing where the with phrase has been (unnecessarily) shunted to the end. So the result is more difficult to process.
    – BillJ
    Commented Jan 9, 2016 at 17:19
  • 1
    This is an example of the rule called Extraposition from NP, which moves a relative clause to the end of a sentence, away from its antecedent. In this case it was moved to allow the prepositional phrase to you to be close to its head noun relationship. Perfectly normal behavior when you have two competing modifiers. Commented Dec 27, 2021 at 17:02

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.