There's a usage where the word introducing a restrictive clause is dropped. Some examples:

Nothing but champagne, now that I'm the boss.


Nothing but champagne, now I'm the boss.


There was a farmer who had a dog, and Bingo was his name-o.


There was a farmer had a dog, and Bingo was his name-o.

Is there a name for this practice, and if so, what? I seem to note it more in British speech than American.

  • 5
    Those are not the same practice. The complementizer that in the first one is optional if the complement clause it introduces is not the subject of the main clause. But the relative pronoun who in the second one is deleted, contrary to the rule that subject relative pronouns may not be deleted. So there is no single name for them. See the "Deletions" section on pp 6ff of the list of English syntactic rules here. Jul 1, 2016 at 23:20
  • 2
    @JohnLawler while there may be a rule in standard English that relative pronouns may not be deleted, their deletion seems to be fairly common in certain dialects.
    – phoog
    Jul 1, 2016 at 23:26
  • 3
    Relative pronouns are often deleted, but subject relative pronouns are rarely deleted, except in certain dialects, as you say. So if you speak one of those dialects, by all means follow its subject relative pronoun deletion rule; if you don't, follow the standard. Oh, and ellipsis is a vague term that means 'something is missing'. It covers both of these and also all other deletion rules. Jul 2, 2016 at 15:05
  • It is fairly common in some American dialects as well, especially in the South.
    – Ricky
    Mar 23, 2017 at 5:04
  • 1
    There is a very set name for it: lyrics. Anything goes in song and poetry if it works. In everyday talk, people often drop the obvious: "If you're going to the city, traffic's heavy." If I don't go, will traffic lighten up? Am I that powerful, or is there an unspoken You'll want to know (if you're going) traffic's heavy" hiding there? Either way, if you're heading out, you'll want an umbrella today. Jun 7, 2017 at 14:01

1 Answer 1


Let us first begin with the first example.

  • Nothing but champagne, now /_\ I am the boss.

In this elision of " that", there are at least three rules at work if an explanation is sought.

1) There's the use of discourse particle.(now/then/oh)

2) 'That' induced noun clause is used as an object.

3) The sentence is too much opinionated especially from the use of personal pronoun(s)

Any of these rules is reason enough to get rid of "that"— a subordinating conjunction but not a relative pronoun. If you like to view this as an example of elision​, better call it " gapping" in the absence of any better name. _. _. _

  • There was a farmer/_\ had a dog, and Bingo was his

Such statement may be common and unique to a particular dialect but has no relevance to English as a universal​ language— more so when we omit a relative pronoun at the subject position. It has no relationship with our first example.

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