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I have not been able to find a satisfactory answer regarding rules about this issue. What I have heard are lots of opinions:

Here is a picture of my house, which I like very much.

Here is a picture of my house that I like very much.

In the second example, that clearly refers to the subject of the main clause, since we could omit it and it would still mean the same thing:

Here is a picture of my house I like very much.

In the first example, is there any rule about what which refers to? There is some ambiguity otherwise.

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    All three sentences contain (perhaps different extents of) ambiguity. Such is the English language. – as4s4hetic Dec 16 '17 at 14:21
  • No, the "which" example is ambiguous. – Greg Lee Dec 16 '17 at 14:46
  • There is no object in the main clause here. Scratches head. Shrugs ... – Araucaria Dec 16 '17 at 16:04
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    @Gustavson Ok, there's no 'object of the main clause' – Araucaria Dec 16 '17 at 17:13
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    The omissibilty of "that" has nothing to do with the subject of the main clause, but that of the relative clause, i.e. it cannot be dropped if the relativised element is subject of the latter. In your examples, the relativised element is object in the relative clause and is thus omissible in your 2nd example. There is ambiguity in both examples. In the 1st we cannot tell if the relativised element is anaphoric to "a picture of my house" or just "my house". And in your 2nd example it is not possible to tell if the relativised element is anaphoric to "picture of my house" or just "house". – BillJ Dec 16 '17 at 18:58
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There's ambiguity when you try to analyze a sentence devoid of any communicative context. But since language is "quite often" used for communication, other things serve to help disambiguate; such as perceived speaker's intention, the topic of the discourse, the intended function of the sentence. If they don't, you can always ask your interlocutor whether he is referring to the picture or to the house.

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