In this sentence:

Our professional designers produce high-quality custom logo designs that exhibit the image (that) our clients want to project.

I've added above (that) to the original sentence to denote the point of my concern.

I had guessed this sentence is the compound of two compartment, which are "Our professional designers produce high-quality custom logo designs that exhibit the image" and "our clients want to project (the image)".

Then I had concluded this merge falls into the case of a relative pronoun.

My question is:

  1. Does this omit the relative pronoun?

  2. If it does, is there any formal term that describes this grammatical phenomenon?

  • Preliminary point: "that" is not a relative pronoun but a subordinator. Relatives without "that" or a wh relative pronoun are called 'bare relatives'. "That" can be freely omitted provided the relativised element is not subject of the relative clause.
    – BillJ
    May 11, 2017 at 11:32
  • @BillJ What is the main characteristic difference between relative pronoun and subordinator?
    – Beverlie
    May 11, 2017 at 13:09
  • A relative pronoun like "who", "which" etc., is anaphorically linked to an antecedent expression -- it has a meaning which is provided by the antecedent. But subordinators like "that" are not anaphoric, they are meaningless lexemes serving simply to introduce a clause. I do realise that many people call relative that a relative pronoun, but many grammarians now accept that it behave like a subordinator and hence belongs in that class.
    – BillJ
    May 11, 2017 at 13:24
  • That can be a relative pronoun (The house that fell had been built badly), a demonstrative pronoun (That house was built badly), or a subordinating conjunction (He determined that the house had been built badly). Ignore BillJ. Jun 24, 2017 at 20:59

1 Answer 1


Yes, there is a name for this. A relative clause in which the relative pronoun has been omitted is called a reduced relative clause.

  • Non-wh relatives without the subordinator "that" are called 'bare' relatives. A reduced relative clause is one where the relativised element is deleted and the finite relative clause is replaced by a non-finite clause, for example, Students who live on campus will be disadvantaged. vs Students living on campus will be disadvantaged.
    – BillJ
    May 11, 2017 at 12:26
  • Nope. That second example is a participial phrase, not a reduced relative clause. May 11, 2017 at 12:33
  • Wake up! It's a clause. We stopped calling such expressions 'phrases' over twenty years ago.
    – BillJ
    May 11, 2017 at 12:35
  • About when you stopped using "whom"? When you decided that "him and I" is always correct? That is certainly a phrase! May 11, 2017 at 12:37
  • 1
    As it happens, I very much dislike the term 'reduced relative clause', since it's an obvious misnomer, and I never use it myself. In my second example, the noun "students" is modified by the gerund-participle clause living on campus will be seriously disadvantaged.
    – BillJ
    May 11, 2017 at 12:43

Your Answer

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

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