Why is this sentence "there were a lot of people at the party who/that hadn't been invited" right grammatically? (It is cited from 'Advanced Grammar in Use, Martin hewings, third edition, p191)

Does it must be fixed "there were a lot of people who/that hadn't been invited at the party" ?

If we write a sentence that contains a relative clause like as first, In some cases I think that we can be coufused for undersanting its meanings.

closed as off-topic by Cascabel, Skooba, Rory Alsop, J. Taylor, bookmanu Feb 6 at 12:40

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  • 1
    I'm flagging this as off-topic ("belongs on ELL"). Hi Sherry, you may not be aware that this EL&U site is for "linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts", whereas your question is probably more suited to our other site English Language Learners. If you have a question for ELL, be sure to read their guidance on what you can ask. :-) – Reinstate Monica Jan 30 at 8:53
  • I do like thinking about the conditions under which a relative clause does not need to immediately follow what it modifies. That is a rather advanced feature of usage that goes beyond what is correct or incorrect. – TaliesinMerlin Jan 30 at 14:16

There were a lot of people at the party that hadn't been invited

A native listener would parse the relative clause that hadn't been invited as modifying the noun phrase people at the party. A relative clause doesn't have to come right after the head noun; it follows the noun phrase.

Of course, as you note, it's possible to parse at the party as being outside the noun phrase, and that would require a transformation. But that's less likely to occur to a native listener trying to make sense of it.


Both are OK, no need to "fix". You can also say

at the party, there were a lot of people who/that hadn't been invited


there were, at the party, a lot of people who/that hadn't been invited

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