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. Jun 13, 2017 at 2:31
  • I think it would flow better as two short sentences. Jun 13, 2017 at 7:26

1 Answer 1


"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?

  • Thank you! Guess I have to spend more time to fully understand.
    – MAT
    Jun 13, 2017 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, 2017 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. Jun 13, 2017 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. Jun 14, 2017 at 22:48

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