Is the following sentence correct:

"They have the Supreme Court on their side which ruled in their favor."

What I want to say is that they (some group of people) have the Supreme Court on their side and that the Supreme Court ruled something in their (some group of people) favor.

If not, how would I need to change the sentence?

  • Maybe: The Supreme Court, firmly on [Group Name's] side, ruled in their favor. Or maybe just: The Supreme Court ruled in the group's favor. (Wouldn't that imply the Court is on the group's side?)
    – JLG
    Jun 4, 2012 at 3:14

3 Answers 3


It's better to put the adjective phrase next to the thing it modifies, as otherwise the meaning can become ambiguous.

They have the Supreme Court, which ruled in their favor, on their side.

Some prescriptivists will say that your sentence, as given in the question, means that their side ruled in their favor, and not the Supreme Court. In this case, however, the meaning is clear enough from context that I think you can use the current form of the sentence.

  • 2
    Good answer, Peter. Perhaps one could avoid any complaint about their side ruling in someone’s favor by swapping in “who” for “which”, however silly that complaint actually is. (Sides cannot make rulings — I think — so the other reading makes no sense.)
    – tchrist
    Jun 3, 2012 at 16:11
  • The OP's sentence is an example of the rule called Extraposition from NP, which moves heavy relative clauses away from the noun they modify to the end of the sentence, much like Extraposition moves heavy subjects to the end and leaves dummy It behind. Peter's answer just unwound that rule to the "underlying" sentence, which is grammatical, if awkward. Personally I'd leave out the commas and use that instead of which. The point is that they have the Court on their side, whatever and wherever they, their side, and the court are. Jun 3, 2012 at 16:55

Yes, your sentence is correct!



They have the Supreme Court on their side which ruled in their favor.

Using "who" and a comma:

They have the Supreme Court on their side, who ruled in their favor.

To be unambiguous:

They have the Supreme Court on their side, and the Supreme Court ruled in their favor.

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