The beauty of fireflies, which are an indicator of environmental health, will overwhelm you.

It sounds fine when I say it, but not sure it is grammatically correct. Does 'which' indicate the beauty of fireflies or the fireflies? Can I say that what the 'which' indicates is depending on the verb after it? (singular: the beauty of fireflies, plural: fireflies)

If it's wrong, is there any revision that I can make with the fewest changes?

Thank you!

  • Sentence is good. – Yosef Baskin Jun 13 '17 at 2:31
  • I think it would flow better as two short sentences. – Jeffrey Kemp Jun 13 '17 at 7:26

"Which" could refer to fireflies or to beauty. The conjugation of the verb will indicate to the reader or the listener what word the author or speaker intends "which" to be connected to.

If you say

The beauty of fireflies, which such and so famous author has written about so eloquently, overwhelmed me

then "which" would refer to beauty. On the other hand, your focus could be on the fireflies:

I was surprised by the beauty of fireflies, which hold special interest for some researchers.

I don't like your proposed sentence, because you have changed your focus suddenly, in the middle of the sentence. Do you want to give more information about the fireflies, or about their beauty?

| improve this answer | |
  • Thank you! Guess I have to spend more time to fully understand. – MAT Jun 13 '17 at 4:04
  • What if I add something that goes with environmental health after the fireflies? -> The beauty of fireflies, which are an excellent indicator of environmental health, along with stunning surroundings ofYosemite National Park will overwhelm you. – MAT Jun 13 '17 at 4:11
  • @TaeHwanLee - There, you are trying to accomplish too much in just one sentence. The different parts of a sentence have to be correctly connected with each other. My spouse always advises me to write shorter and ever shorter sentences, saying, "Think Hemingway!" // SE has a wonderful site for English Language Learners which you might want to try. – aparente001 Jun 13 '17 at 13:54
  • @sumelic - I think that was the worst "answer" I have ever written -- if I can call it that. I've done some editing to try to salvage it. – aparente001 Jun 14 '17 at 22:48

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

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