In a sentence such as

Lionel Messi, 34, now plays for PSG

a reduced relative clause can be readily seen, and I can put back what has been omitted:

Lionel Messi, who is 34, plays for PSG

But in something such as

I end up doing all the work, with him being absent so frequently

if I "complete" what I see as a reduced relative clause, I create:

I end up doing all the work, with him who is being absent so frequently

which sounds convoluted.

It occurred to me that what I'm doing is entirely based on an assumption or a gut feeling, that there is a "reduced relative clause" in each sentence. I mean, just because I changed things to with him who is being absent, is that enough to call this a "reduced relative clause"?

More to the point, Is there a reliable syntactic test to determine that an -ing word (such as "being" in th example above) is the result of a "reduced relative clause"?

  • I don't think that's a relative clause construction, reduced or not. Oct 11 at 1:16
  • @John Lawler. Is it that relative clause reduction just doesn't work with "being"? Maybe the relative clause needs to be non-restrictive (Mary, sitting across the table, winked at me ~ Mary, who was sitting across the table, winked at me) but it still sounds odd with "being:" Mary, being upset with me, didn't call me ~ Mary, who was being upset with me, didn't call me. I'm just trying to figure out if there is an underlying rule at work. Thank you.
    – Puzzled
    Oct 11 at 2:18
  • You're conflating the function of modifier/supplement with the category of relative clause. In your example "Lionel Messi, 34, now plays for PSG" the commas mark the noun phrase "34" as a supplement. Supplements are loosely attached elements set off by intonation (and usually punctuation) presenting supplementary non-integrated content. Sure, you can recast it as "Lionel Messi, who is 34, now plays for PSG", where "who is 34" is clearly a relative clause, but "34" in your first example is a supplementary NP, not some kind of relative clause.
    – BillJ
    Oct 11 at 6:41
  • You asked about syntactic tests for so-called 'reduced' relative clauses. The impossibility of such expressions containing a relative phrase means that they are not some kind of relative clause at all, but other kinds of phrase or clause functioning as modifier or supplement.
    – BillJ
    Oct 11 at 6:49

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.