We saw a blue sky for the first time in weeks, perhaps a good omen.

I'm not sure if the phrase in bold is called a reduced relative clause in grammar. Actually it modifies the whole sentence that comes before it.

  • 1
    It looks to me like a noun phrase, in apposition to "blue sky". Sep 12, 2021 at 1:02
  • 1
    @AndreasBlass, The blue sky alone is not a good omen. Seeing a blue sky for the first time in weeks is a good omen.
    – BeatsMe
    Sep 12, 2021 at 5:00

1 Answer 1


It is a reduced relative clause and it is true that this relative modifies the whole previous clause. Although Cambridge seems to indicate that this use is more often encountered in spoken language, it is often used in written formal language too:

Some relative clauses refer to a whole clause, a whole sentence, or a longer stretch of language. We always use which to introduce these clauses. We often use these clauses in informal speaking to express an opinion or evaluation.

  • I think the other thing that was really good about it as well was that [everybody worked really hard and helped tidy up at the end], which I hadn’t expected at all. (In this example, the which clause modifies the italicised clause).

So your example could be re-written with the omitted words:

We saw a blue sky for the first time in weeks, [which was] perhaps a good omen.

here again, the which clause modifies the italicised clause.

Edit: I am ready to accept I am wrong and learn something new. I just wish people made the effort to also give the right answer, which they must know since they downvoted. When someone gives a correct answer, I will gladly delete mine.

  • 2
    Even if there were such a thing as a 'reduced relative clause' (which there isn't) it wouldn't be one! In any case, a so-called 'reduced relative clause' is a non-finite clause.
    – BillJ
    Sep 11, 2021 at 11:37
  • But famous grammar books have made enough references to reduced relative clauses!
    – BeatsMe
    Sep 11, 2021 at 21:09
  • Even if @BillJ separates himself from the term 'reduced relative clause' with scare quotes, it is widely used and it is meaningful; practically inevitable in a transformational theory. The sentence We saw a blue sky for the first time in weeks, which was/is perhaps a good omen (in either tense) is reduced by the transformation called Whiz-Deletion, which deletes the boldfaced parts, producing the example sentence, with no meaning change. This is not rocket surgery; it's very ordinary grammar. Sep 12, 2021 at 16:58
  • @JohnLawler Encouraging comment. I was wondering if BillJ was thinking of it as an aside. Could be. As in, We saw a blue sky for the first time in weeks, and this was/is perhaps a good omen.
    – fev
    Sep 12, 2021 at 18:32

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