I came across a headline on a website yesterday, saying:

"Razer Huntsman Elite is the cheapest it has been in the UK, at £158."

I think I can roughly understand the sentence (Razer Huntsman Elite has reached its lowest price, which is £158 ), but the phrase "it has been" really confused me here.

After searching for a while, I still don't understand the grammatical function of the phrase, even though I've found a pattern like this:

(To be) the [a superlative adjective] + it has been + (usually) [ a preposition phrase]


"The unemployment rate is the lowest it’s been since 1969..."
"Alaska's pink salmon catch is the worst it has been in 40 years."

So, my questions are:


what the phrase is doing here in the sentence (its function)? (Resolved. Now I know that the phrase "it has been" has somthing to do with the point of the comparison. It limits the scope of the comparison. Thanks to the authors of the comments).

But new questions arise to me. I add some details that might be more grammatical:

What I'm trying to figure out now is the grammatical relationship between "it has been" and the other part of the sentence. That is, the form of the sentence (how and which part does "it has been" grammatically combined with?). I don't know how to express it more accurately, so let me take a similar but not exact same sentence for example:

He is the kindest person (whom) I have ever met.

In the sentence, I know that "I have ever met" is a relative clause, which modifies the noun "person" before it. A relative clause usually has a relative pronoun preceded, which can be the Object, the Complement or the Subject of the clause, and "whom" is the object of the clause in this case. Those are what I am looking for.

Back to the original sentence again:

Razer Huntsman Elite is the cheapest <something omitted here?> it has been in the UK, at £158.

My revised questions are:

Is "it has been" a relative clause in the sentence? If it is, is there any relative pronoun preceded and omitted?

Thank you

  • If some figure is the lowest it has [ever] been, there has not been a time when it was lower than it is now. I don't know how to make this any clearer. Commented May 7, 2019 at 8:07
  • Suppose you omit the bolded phrase, the sentence becomes "Razer Huntsman Elite is the cheapest in the UK, at £158." It is now unclear to what "cheapest" is referring, and the sentence suggests the product is cheaper than other brands. So to me, the relevant question is "what is cheapest comparing with?" and the bolded phrase answers that. Commented May 7, 2019 at 8:31
  • Thank you @KateBunting. Now I have understood the function of the phrase already. Commented May 7, 2019 at 12:23
  • Thank you very much @WeatherVane. Your explaination is very clear. Now I understand the function of the phrase. Commented May 7, 2019 at 12:24

1 Answer 1


"It has been" can be considered a relative clause modifying "the cheapest." It can also be preceded by a relative pronoun, "that," though in this case "that" has been omitted.

"That" is optional when it would serve as the object of the relative clause. In this case, the hypothetical "that" would refer to "the cheapest," which is the object of the relative clause. To illustrate with a little rearranging,

the cheapest it has been (relative clause follows words it modifies, that omitted)

the cheapest that it has been (relative clause follows words it modifies, that included)

it has been the cheapest (structure rearranged to create an independent clause with the former modified words serving as an object)

So the relative clause qualifies in what way the razor is the cheapest. (It's not the cheapest of all goods in the UK, or the cheapest razor, but the cheapest price for that razor relative to other times.)

  • Thank you very much! This is what I am looking for. Now everything about the sentence is clear to me. Commented May 8, 2019 at 8:33

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