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One can establish their genetic ’distance’, which itself can be calibrated to give an indication of the length of time since these populations last interbreed.

I thought this was an appositive clause because of itself as a noun. But the answer told me that i was wrong. It said that this was a attributive clause. I was confused by this sentence. I’m so appreciated for your answer.

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One can establish their genetic 'distance', [which itself [can [be calibrated [to give an indication of the length of time since [these populations last interbred]]]].

The reciprocal pronoun "itself" has no bearing on the basic clause structure. It's simply an optional item used here for emphasis.

The primary subordinate (dependent) clause is the relative clause "which itself can be calibrated to give an indication of the length of time since these populations last interbreed", which incidentally contains further subordinate clauses, as shown by the brackets.

Note that the relative clause is a non-defining one and hence not a modifier but a supplement.

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  • Right on all counts, but it should be made clear that the relative clause in this particular sentence is non-defining, not that all relative clauses are non-defining: "the relative clause is a non-defining one (one could be interpreted as "clause")." End Man, October 2022.
    – Zan700
    Commented Apr 24, 2022 at 2:30
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"which itself can be calibrated to give an indication of the length of time since these populations last interbreed." is a relative clause.

"Itself" is merely emphatic and does not alter the grammar.

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