I understand who and when can be used to introduce adjective clause for sure like the following sentences.

The time when it is good for us to meet has not been decided.

The person who is qualified for the job will be appointed soon.

However, can subordinating conjunctions who and when be used to introduce subject clause?

For example,

(1) [When it is good for us to meet] has not been decided.
(2) [Who is qualified for the job] will be appointed soon.

Are the two sentences grammatically correct?

  • Add the -ever maybe. "Whoever is qualified for the job will be appointed." – Kris Dec 26 '18 at 10:21
  • Generally, the "dummy it" comes in in such cases: "It has not been decided (as to) when is good for us to meet." – Kris Dec 26 '18 at 10:23
  • See also, English Language Learners – Kris Dec 26 '18 at 10:28
  • 1
    The bracketed elements in 1) and (2) are not clauses. They are NPs in fused relative constructions. But you need "whenever" and "whoever", as in "Whenever is good for us to meet" / "Whoever is qualified for the job", where the -ever phrase marks the NPs as non-referential. – BillJ Dec 26 '18 at 11:07
  • 1
    ... and who and where are not subordinating conjunctions. – John Lawler Dec 26 '18 at 15:49

Short Answer

Are the two sentences grammatically correct? No, they are ungrammatical as you intend them to be.

Long Answer

First things first, 'parts of speech' (aka, 'word class') such as 'adjective' are originally used to classify words based on their grammatical functions, but not to classify phrases or clauses based on their grammatical functions.

You can classify phrases using 'parts of speech' such as 'noun phrase', 'adjective phrase', 'verb phrase', etc. But this classification of phrases is not based on their grammatical function but on what part of speech the head of a phrase is classified as.

For example, if you classify a phrase as an adjective phrase, it's not because its grammatical function is similar to that of an adjective but because the head of the phrase is classified as an adjective:

I have a train to catch. [Here, to catch is not an adjective phrase but a verb phrase.]

I'm afraid of him. [Here, afraid of him is an adjective phrase.]

Now, turning to clauses, the head of a clause is always a verb (except for verbless clauses). Therefore, I'm afraid it'd wrong to classify your clauses as 'adjective clauses' simply because the clauses have a postmodifying function that is not even exclusive to 'adjective', as in:

The time when is good for us to meet has not been decided.

The person who is qualified for the job will be appointed soon.

Suffice it to say they are relative clauses.

Now the examples you ask the question about are:

(1) When is good for us to meet has not been decided.

(2) Who is qualified for the job will be appointed soon.

If (1) is to be a natural sentence, the boldfaced portion has to be an interrogative clause, where When is an interrogative word as in When is good for us to meet? But this interpretation doesn't seem to be what you have intended.

(2), on the other hand, cannot work as is, however you interpret it, because here the boldfaced portion cannot even work as an interrogative clause due to the meaning of the main clause will be appointed soon.

  • Firstly, you’re describing modern linguistic terminology. In traditional grammar, it is perfectly legitimate to refer to clauses that modify noun phrases as adjective clauses (= headed relative clauses, in more modern frameworks). There is no need to be narrow-minded about labels. Secondly, the two example sentences are not just unambiguously ungrammatical. More needs to be said. – Richard Z Jan 28 '19 at 6:55
  • @RichardZ Post-modification is not even an inherent function of an adjective. Generally, you can't postmodify a noun with a single adjective. *She's a girl pretty. Rather, it's an inherent function of a phrase/clause. She's a girl [pretty and innocuous]. She's a girl [who is pretty and innocuous]. She's the only girl [in our class]. She's the only girl [who is in our class]. So who is in our class is no less of "an adjective clause" than in our class is "an adjective phrase." – JK2 Jan 28 '19 at 7:24
  • I guess when traditional grammarians coined the term “adjective clause”, they weren’t thinking of POST modification of a noun, but just modification of a noun in general. At any rate, the term still exists as such. – Richard Z Jan 28 '19 at 10:38
  • @RichardZ Show me a clause that pre-modifies a noun, because there's none that I can think of right now. Unless you do, I doubt that traditional grammarians were even "thinking" when they coined the term 'adjective clause'. – JK2 Jan 28 '19 at 12:24
  • How about: The “British-is-best” mentality. – Richard Z Jan 28 '19 at 12:44

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