# Do reduced relative clauses stack? [closed]

I was wondering if you can always get (3-4) from (1-2) or if there is some kind of restriction on this sort of stacking

(1) The door closed by the janitor

(2) The door expected to be opened by the principal

(3) The door closed by the janitor expected to be opened by the principal

(4) The door expected to be opened by the principal (just recently) closed by the janitor

• Sure, but you're pushing your luck for the reader to get it on first try. May 29, 2022 at 16:55
• Integrated (defining) relative clauses can be stacked, but the clauses in your examples are not relatives; rather, they are past-participial clauses. Why would you want to concoct such weird constructions? May 29, 2022 at 17:37
• 3a: The door closed by the janitor [which was] expected to be opened by the principal. 3b: The door closed by the janitor [who was] expected to be sacked by the principal. May 29, 2022 at 17:41
• Commas can help. This is the door originally expected to be opened by the principal, but just recently locked by the janitor by mistake. May 29, 2022 at 17:46
• First you need to come up with an end to your sentence. e.g.: The door [that was] closed by the janitor [that was] expected to be opened by the principal was damaged. Then you can see the garden path problem when you try to reduce the second relative clause: The door [that was] closed by the janitor expected to be opened by the principal was damaged. We are led to believe that the door was doing the expecting, right before the whole sentence devolves. May 29, 2022 at 18:11

## 1 Answer

The Nursery rhyme "The House that Jack Built" consists of increasing relative clauses.

This is the house that Jack built.

The number of relative clauses then increase and the rhyme ends with 16 relative clauses:

This is the farmer that sowed the corn,

That kept the cock that crowed in the morn.

That waked the priest [who was] all shaven and shorn,

That married the man [who was] all tattered and torn,

That kissed the maiden [who was] all forlorn,

That milked the cow with the crumpled horn,

That tossed the dog,

That worried the cat,

That killed the rat,

That ate the malt

That lay in the house that Jack built.

The commas are to help breathing... The relative clauses are theoretically limitless.

• Note that OP's example uses past-participle clauses. May 29, 2022 at 18:39
• Lose the [who was] and you have a few PP clauses, and the model for converting them all. May 29, 2022 at 19:04
• Haven't you seen the earlier debate over whether whiz-deletion is a valid concept? And a main proponent, John Lawler, adds the caveat 'Whiz-Deletion is the source of virtually all post-nominal adjectival phrases, like ...' May 31, 2022 at 18:43