In 1967 , Edgerton's side-scan sonar systems revealed a large , unusually shaped object , which Mckee believed WAS the Mary Rose.

Shouldn't this be "Mackee believed TO BE the Mary Rose"?

Can somebody please explain the grammar?


The sentence is fine as written. This is the ordinary way of relativizing a constituent in a subordinate content clause:

          McKee believed  it   was the Mary Rose.
    which McKee believed  ____ was the Mary Rose

Note that a content clause with a relativized constituent is not introduced with the subordinator that.

Your paraphrase with infinitival to be is grammatical, but stilted.

  • 1
    Agree with everything in this answer except the last word. Stilted? Seems perfectly natural and normal to me. Slightly higher in register, but far from stilted. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Aug 28 '17 at 14:50
  • Ngrams shows believed it to be is more common that believed (that) it is, although neither is rare. I certainly wouldn't call it stilted. – Peter Shor Aug 28 '17 at 14:53
  • @PeterShor Add believed it was to that NGram. ... I'll stand by the characterization. The infinitival is largely confined to the higher register, while the finite verb is at home in all registers; that strikes me as a pretty good operational definition of 'stilted'. – StoneyB on hiatus Aug 28 '17 at 14:59

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