What do you call the clause/phrase "he listens to"? It's not an apposition, is it?

Both parts of this sentence depend on each other, don't they? Neither can I say "I don't like the music." nor "he listens to.". I could say "I don't like music." But the definite article forces me to define "music". The second sentence is obviously a relative clause. The work (he did in Manchester) was boring. No need to mention the additional information: he did in Manchester. It's a defining relative clause. Is the first sentence as well?

Thank you for your help!

closed as off-topic by Marv Mills, FumbleFingers, Edwin Ashworth, curiousdannii, user140086 Mar 7 '16 at 4:21

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  • Please edit the question to include the sentences you're asking about. The title should be a description, not the details. – Barmar Mar 6 '16 at 21:51
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    Of course you can say I don't like the music (with or without the article). I don't know that apposition is relevant here, but you can tell he listens to and he did in Manchester are both relative clauses because they can both be optionally preceded by a relative pronoun (that or which). – FumbleFingers Mar 6 '16 at 22:22

"He listens to" by itself is not a complete thought and cannot function as an independent clause. However it is a complete thought when used in:

  • "The music he listens to." (Used in casual conversation as a reply.)
  • "He listens to crappy music." (Proper sentence that is correct when 'he' is defined, which in this case we will say is. This use is different than the first.)

I don't like the music he listens to.

This is a full sentence. The subject is I, the verb is the phrase "don't like", and the noun being modified by the subject and verb is the phrase "the music he listens to." If you say "...the music.", you must have "the music" predefined to use it, so it relies on more detail which "he listens to" provides. "He listens to" does rely on more information but not in the way you may think, which depends on usage. "The music he listens to" is a full nominal phrase, so you treat it as a noun. It's used differently in the sentence "He listens to crappy music" where the subject is 'he', the verbal phrase is 'listens to', and the noun is 'music' which is modified by the adjective 'crappy'.

In short:

  • The music - is a nominal phrase that requires predefinition.
  • The music he listens to - is a nominal phrase that defines itself.
  • ...he listens to - is a relative clause, though if you wanted to be technical about it it could work better if you added 'that', as in "...that he listens to." In this case, if you think about it, it's like a weird adjective. (What don't you like? The music. What's wrong with the music? It's the kind that he listens to. What looks ugly? The color yellow. What's wrong with yellow? It looks gross.) It is a relative clause.

"The work" is similar to "the music", it requires predefinition for use if you're going to use it by itself. If you're going to use it and self define it, that turns it into a nominal phrase that defines itself.

The work he did was boring.

To use this you'd need to predefine who 'he' is. Compare this to:

The work my brother did was boring.

You could also say:

The work in Manchester was boring.

So obviously "he did in Manchester" isn't necessary as long as "the work" is predefined somehow.

Think of it this way, if you randomly went up to someone and said "The music/the work is terrible!", aside from the strange look you'll get for being a stranger, they would ask "what music/work?" If you went up and said "I don't like the music my brother listens to!" or "The work my brother did in Manchester was boring!", they would respond with an "I don't care about your music choices or lack of entertaining work, I hardly know you!"

  • This could be a good answer if it explicitly adressed the question the OP asked. What's "he listens to" in "I don't like the music he listens to"? Is it a relative clause the same way "he did in Manchester" is? – Yay Mar 6 '16 at 22:51
  • Yes. It is a 'defining' (or 'restrictive') relative clause, with the relative pronoun omitted, as you can generally do when it functions as an object of the verb in the relative clause – Colin Fine Mar 6 '16 at 23:21
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    Sorry, I guess I got lost in my ramblings. I edited it to be hopefully more concise and less "opined". – malicedShade Mar 8 '16 at 4:28

He listens to

is part of the indirect statement/discourse.

The work he did in Manchester...

"He did in Manchester" is the relative clause. You can tell by removing that portion and you end up with:

The work was boring.

This sentence is complete as well.

  • There is no indirect discourse in the OP's examples. Indirect discourse is a report of past speech. He did in Manchester is indeed a relative clause, but that's because it's understood to have a implied relative pronoun, that, at the its start -- The work [that] he did in Machester -- "relating" or describing what it modifies (here, The work). – deadrat Mar 7 '16 at 1:49
  • I get what you are saying now. – Aziz Mar 7 '16 at 2:31

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