I am puzzled by a sentence:
A is a function of B, which depends on C.
My question is:
Which depends on C, A or B?

  • @JEL No, there are some differences as A=A(B(C)), A=A(B,C).
    – Mathieu
    Mar 8, 2016 at 10:22

1 Answer 1


In theory, relative pronouns can refer to any word. So it could be A or B. However, the closest word is usually the most likely candidate. Moreover, if the intention had been "A depends on C", one would expect this elliptical construction:

A is a function of B and [it] depends on C.

This is unambiguous, because there are two parallel clauses, and so the subject of both verbs has to be the same (A). Since your example does not use this obvious construction, it is highly likely that it is B that depends on C.

  • So you mean that, theoretically, English has such kind of loophole, which is annoying.
    – Mathieu
    Mar 8, 2016 at 10:28
  • @Mathieu: I believe most European languages have this loophole. Mar 8, 2016 at 11:06

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