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I knew some rules about relative pronoun and how to omit. e.g.

The teacher who teaches us. => The teacher teaching us.

The cup which was broken by my brother. => The cup broken by my brother.

But I want to know whether the relative pronoun of this phrase can be omitted?

"The man who is happy. => The man happy."

The reason I ask is that I saw a sentence "Kennedy is the person (who is) generous to everyone." on a website teaching how to use relative pronoun.

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    "The man happy" omits the main verb, not a pronoun. – Andrew Leach Aug 7 at 17:19
  • Um... Maybe I used a bad example. Can I change "Kennedy is the person who is always happy" to "Kennedy is the person always happy"? – Xin-Yu Hou Aug 7 at 17:38
  • @Xin-YuHou I changed the question to include a relative pronoun above the example you provided. – sas08 Aug 7 at 20:02
  • The man is happy does not have a relative pronoun in it, because it doesn't have a relative clause in it. Is is not a relative pronoun. And, no, you can't do Whiz-deletion on Kennedy is the person who is <adjective phrase>. – John Lawler Aug 7 at 22:45
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The example may be rewritten Kennedy is generous to everyone. I'm not sure how this is meaningfully different from the other examples. The man who is happy becomes The happy man by the same process. Perhaps you are concerned about removing the only verb in a sentence fragment, but it's fragmentary regardless.

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1. the teacher who teaches us

2. the teacher teaching us

In the first example, "who teaches us" is a relative clause that restrictively modifies the noun "teacher," thus adjectivally. The second example means what the first example means, but it is not a reconstruction or a version of the first as it is employing a participial phrase as a post-positive adjective.

A postpositive adjective is a predicative adjective that is placed after the noun or pronoun that it modifies. This contrasts with prepositive adjectives, which come before the noun or pronoun.

One type of postpostive adjective is participles. The phrase "teaching us" is a participle, "teaching" being the present participle of the verb "to teach." As a participle, it can be placed in a post-positive position of the noun, or after the noun.


1. the man who is happy

2. the man happy

3. the happy man

Like before, neither the second nor third examples are versions of the first. So be clear on that. Also, you seem to be under the misguided perception the second one is wrong. It's not. While, "happy" is generally not a postpostive adjective, as per the link above, it is sometimes, for example:

1. I want to see the man happy.

2. Make the man happy.

In the above, the reason for the post-postive placement is "the man" is being used pronounally for a specific person. Referring to the the link above, you will see that when we modify pronouns, the adjectives appear postpostively.


"Kennedy is the person generous to everyone."

That's kind of a weird sentence, but it's not ungrammatical. If you review the link on post-positive adjectives, you will see a section that discusses post-positive placement when using "an adjective phrase in which the head adjective is not final. Three other examples of this are:

1. We need a box bigger than that."

2. That is fruit ripe for the picking.

3. Which man is my dad? My dad is the man happy for his wife.

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