I came across this literature recently:

An Owner may apply for a Change of Name of a registered Greyhound by submitting to the GBGB the appropriate form duly completed, which form shall include details of existing and/or prospective Part-Owners of the Greyhound, where relevant.

Is "which form" correct in this example? Why does the noun "form" need to be repeated; isn't the word "which" supposed to imply a noun from the previous clause? If the noun being implied is ambiguous, is it standard practice to clarify it by repeating it after "which" or not?


2 Answers 2


It's common in American lawyer-mangled English. It is certainly common in legal documents. There are much clearer ways to write it (perhaps "...form duly completed. This form shall include...")

Lawyers always try to remove ambiguities (which, they fear, could be interpreted to the detriment of their clients), even if that makes for very awkward language.

  • Right, but is there any grammatical basis for adding the noun in after "which", or did the lawyers just invent this piece of grammar?
    – Jez
    Jun 15, 2012 at 8:23
  • "Which dessert do you want, apple pie or ice cream?" Jun 15, 2012 at 15:04
  • "Tell the waiter which dessert you want." Jun 15, 2012 at 15:05
  • But those are different senses of which - sense 1. The sense of which clearly meant in this example is sense 3, "(used relatively in restrictive and nonrestrictive clauses to represent a specified antecedent)". Does putting a noun after which in that sense of the word have a precedent?
    – Jez
    Jun 15, 2012 at 16:59

If you read old[er] literature it often appears in sundry texts, which texts comprise novels, essays, letters, &c. ;)

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.