Sentences (1)-(2) below are grammatically/semantically correct.
Sentences (1)-(2) are traditionally explained by deletion of a nominative case relative pronoun. However, in my view, sentences (1)-(2) are constructions of there is+an independent sentence/finite clause.

(1) There was nothing could be done for him.

(2) There’s only two men in the world of golf can play like that.

What is more, in my view, sentences like (1)-(2) seem to be acceptable in Brithsh English, rather than in American English.


In what context sentences (1)-(2) are likely to use?

Could you please tell me contexts where it is appropriate to use sentences (1)-(2), or contexts in which sentences (1)-(2) can be used?

  • 3
    In any context where a speaker deletes that from a relative clause. These particular _that_s are subjects, so they're not sposta be deleted, but they often are nevertheless. Jul 31, 2023 at 20:26
  • 4
    Neither of these sound right to me, but I feel like there may be regional dialects that use this syntax.
    – Barmar
    Jul 31, 2023 at 20:40
  • This question and this question both give the official rule; this has some comments, and there's lots more. But I'm not aware of a specific analysis of omitting that when it's the subject of a relative cause; it's common in some cases in casual English.
    – Stuart F
    Jul 31, 2023 at 20:55
  • American English here... Both of those are “wrong.” Aug 1, 2023 at 2:43
  • As spoken AE, they are lovely slang. If written, they are missing a connector. Aug 7, 2023 at 22:35

1 Answer 1


Huddleston & Pullum (2002) address this issue, of course (ch. 12, p. 1055). Their example sentence is:

There’s someone at the door wants to talk to you.

They consider such existential statements as a possible exception to the rule that reduced relative clauses require a "that" before a relativized subject.

They say that such sentences "fall at the boundary between very informal and non-standard." I (speaking American English, if it's relevant) share their ambivalence; I think that this construction shows up in informal speech but very rarely in writing.

As they note, there are some dialects that allow this construction much more widely, e.g.:

Anyone wants this can have it.

I'm inclined to think that this construction can be heard in all dialects, but that it's just more common in some dialects than others. Wolfram (2000) notes its occurrence in various Southern US dialects and AAVE, for instance.

  • 3
  • I already know that examples like (1) and (2) are in the boarder between correct English and non-standard English. So I want to know contexts in which (1) or (2) is used appropriately.
    – GWisdom
    Aug 2, 2023 at 13:22
  • 1
    @GWisdom Are you asking whether you should use this construction? That would be a matter of context, taste, and stylistic preference; it's not something we can answer here.
    – alphabet
    Aug 2, 2023 at 14:57
  • @GWisdom You would be mimicking a regional dialect trait. There are no natural contexts where you would do that.
    – TimR
    Aug 2, 2023 at 18:41
  • 1
    "You’d think it was the room of a man would drive a car for a bishop only for the pictures of women in frames along the shelf above his bed." stancarey.wordpress.com/2014/08/22/…
    – TimR
    Aug 2, 2023 at 18:45

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