2

Across multiple websites, I got conflicting information about reduced relative clauses with the present perfect form. Overall, I came up with the tentative conclusion that relative clauses cannot be reduced for the active voice of present perfect but can be reduced for the passive voice of present perfect.
I would appreciated the definitive answer from grammarians. Thank you!

Examples:

Active present perfect clauses:

  • Applicants who have passed the exam go through to the interview.
    (wrong?) -> Applicants passing the exam go through to the interview.

  • The system that has implemented the new software is functioning well.
    (wrong?) -> The system implementing the new software is functioning well.

Passive present perfect clauses:

  • A driver who has been pulled over by the police was 30 mph over the legal limit.
    -> A driver pulled over by the police was 30 mph over the legal limit.

  • The pipe that has been broken will be repaired in a week.
    -> The pipe broken will be repaired in a week.
    ("The broken pipe ..." may sound better, but that's off topic here.)

  • 2
    All the examples you give are perfectly okay, in my opinion. (I'm a grammarian.) – Greg Lee Oct 5 '17 at 21:50
  • 1
    The present progressive examples are fine. – Arm the good guys in America Oct 5 '17 at 22:05
  • What's wrong with The pipe that has broken? If you say The pipe that has been broken, it sounds like somebody intentionally broke it. – Peter Shor May 5 '19 at 0:36
  • @PeterShor The pipe that has broken sounds like it has deliberately broken something else! The pipe that is broken sounds perfect. – mahmud k pukayoor Sep 2 '19 at 4:05
2

Please correct me if I’m reading your question wrong here, but to me it seems that the crux of the confusion stems from the seemingly a-grammatical nature or meaning shift in changing:

Applicants who have passed the exam go through to the interview.

To

Applicants passing the exam go through to the interview.

I would like to point out a feature of the perfective that appears to have been forgotten in the other answers. The perfective helping verb have can also undergo mutation to fit the grammatical needs of a sentence. Therefore, I propose that the reduced relative clause most matching your original sentence would be:

Applicants having passed the exam go through to the interview.

The question of whether this would be used more in speech or in writing I believe is a secondary, though equally important question, though outside the scope of this post.

| improve this answer | |
  • 1
    Yes! This is what I wanted to know and this makes sense. Thank you! – dolph Nov 3 '18 at 16:17
0

The active/passive dichotomy may not be helpful. Arguably the reduced relative clauses occur more frequently in spoken rather than written usage, where - to use your example - "The pipe that has been broken will be repaired in a week" would be a stilted, or at least unusual, form in spoken English.

| improve this answer | |
  • Thank you everyone for responses. I know some of these may not be good examples as spoken English but I'm asking in terms of the concise form of written language. To reconfirm, are the first two examples above marked "wrong" ("The system implementing ..." and "The system implementing ...") are correct reduced forms of the preceding present perfect clauses? – dolph Oct 6 '17 at 18:46
0

The example sentences seem grammatical, but I don't know if it's right to think of them as containing reduced relative clauses derived from active present perfect forms.

"The system implementing the new software is functioning well" is not wrong, but I can only read it as a reduced version of "The system that is implementing the new software is functioning well," not as a reduced version of "The system that has implemented the new software is functioning well."

"Applicants passing the exam go through to the interview" also sounds OK to me, but I don't know how to explain its structure. I'm not happy with calling it a reduction of "Applicants who are passing the exam..." because that actually sounds odd to me, but I'm also not convinced that it's particularly closely related to "Applicants who have passed the exam...". To me it seems closest in meaning to "Applicants who pass the exam go through to the interview."

Perhaps it can be compared to sentences like "Some items belonging to customers were stolen." Obviously, we would use a non-progressive form in a relative clause with a finite verb: "Some items that belonged to customers" is better than "some items that were belonging to customers".

| improve this answer | |

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.