the amount of money there is to be made

Here between ‘money‘ and ‘there’ I guess that a relative pronoun is omitted but I’m not sure whether it is a subjective one or an objective one.

I’d appreciate any explanation.

  • I don't follow you. The choice is between the subordinator "that" and the relative pronoun "which", neither of which are classed as subjective or objective. I suspect most people would, in a short sentence like yours, opt for either "that", or a 'bare' relative as you've written it.
    – BillJ
    Feb 12 at 9:03
  • What do you think the sentence means? "is to be made" is a passive so it cannot have an object.
    – Stuart F
    Feb 12 at 9:45
  • Subjective or objective — it's still that (unlike who vs. whom). Feb 13 at 19:59

2 Answers 2


This boils down to an issue of 'that' vs 'which' as I'm sure that you weren't referring to any other relative pronoun, those aren't really relevant either way. When considering these two, we have a question of restrictive vs. nonrestrictive clauses.

First, let's establish a full sentence here so that it is easier to analyze.

The amount of money (that/which) there is to be made is astronomical.

Now, let's consider the role of 'that' and 'which' in this sentence. Using 'that' gives us a restrictive clause wherein the information referred to by the relative pronoun is essential, whereas using 'which' will give us a nonrestrictive clause wherein the piece of information that the relative pronoun refers to, while relevant, is non-essential and dispensable. Do note that 'which' should be used with a comma beforehand as a general rule of punctuation, so the sentence would be "The amount of money, which there is to be made, is astronomical" and even by looking at that you intuitively feel that this information is not really a sub-clause and surplus information but rather an essential part of the meaning that we are trying to convey.

The relative pronoun in this sentence refers to '(the money) there is to be made', which we can infer as referring to the attainability of the money by whichever party is involved. Now, the lines are a bit ambiguous when it comes to essential/non-essential information but I believe that this piece of info actually alters the meaning of the sentence significantly and can be counted as an essential clause. Therefore, I believe that using 'that' is the appropriate thing to do here (or, in context, 'that' is the omitted relative pronoun).

p.s. As seen in my discourse in the comment section with @BillJ, certain linguists do not agree with the taxonomy of 'that' as a relative pronoun, and believe that it should be classified as a subordinator instead, due to a multitude of reasons as addressed in The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language by Rodney Huddleston and Geoffrey K. Pullum in the subsections under '3.5.6. That as a subordinator (not a relative pronoun)' where it states: "Wide range of antecedent types and relativised elements, Lack of upward percolation, Finiteness, Omissibility". If you have access to the book, which can easily be accessed online, I'd recommend reading the section. This doesn't really contradict what I have written here, but it is important to be aware of different viewpoints on the topic.

  • 2
    Grammatically, both "that" and "which" can be used in restrictive relatives, so the issue of restrictive vs non-restrictive does not arise here. Incidentally, "that" is a subordinator, not a pronoun.
    – BillJ
    Feb 12 at 9:41
  • Actually, 'that' and 'which' are both relative pronouns and not subordinate conjunctions. Also, even though 'that' and 'which' can technically be used as both restrictive pronouns, 'which' is unique as it can both be used restrictively and non-restrictively. Therefore, the only way that we can answer the question is if we assume that we are looking at the differences between them. I understand that I should have addressed that, that's on me, but some of your points are incorrect/incomplete as they omit some important details.
    – gzkts
    Feb 12 at 10:53
  • 1
    That's not correct. "That" (not "which", of course) has been recognised by grammarians as a subordinator for some time now. The answer to the OP's question is very simple: a that clause is fine, as is a wh relative, or a 'bare' relative. The OP's example is clearly restrictive, so discussion about non-restrictive is not relevant.
    – BillJ
    Feb 12 at 11:14
  • @BillJ I looked at some resources, admittedly some are less than scholarly (quora.com/…), but I couldn't really find a lot of mentions of 'that' as a subordinator. If you have some resources, I'd love to check them out but so far I'm lost.
    – gzkts
    Feb 12 at 11:24
  • Do you have access to The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language by Huddleston & Pullum?
    – BillJ
    Feb 12 at 11:28

the amount of money there is to be made

is a noun phrase. It can all be replaced by a pronoun:

the amount of money there is to be made would fill the largest bank vault -> It would fill the largest bank vault.

Amount is the focus of the NP.

"of money" defines "the amount" and licences the definite article.

There is an ellipsed "that" (between "money" and "there is") that introduces a relative clause "there is to be made". This relative clause modifies "the amount of money".

There is is the existential "there" such that "that there is" = "that exists".

to be made is a passive infinitive construction and can be followed by an agent, e.g. "by people".

the amount of money there is to be made = the amount of money that exists to be made by people.


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