Given the example (from a British novel, The Secret Intensity of Everyday Life)

Well what did I expect who said it would be easy? I will not let this defeat me. I will persist.

Is the first sentence a complete sentence? If yes, then does who take a role of relative pronoun? Can it be separated from the antecedent, I?

Or are these two sentences and the writer intentionally omits a punctuation mark to get the protagonist’s rapid thinking across?

closed as too localized by MetaEd, FumbleFingers, user21497, Kris, Robusto Dec 22 '12 at 15:37

This question is unlikely to help any future visitors; it is only relevant to a small geographic area, a specific moment in time, or an extraordinarily narrow situation that is not generally applicable to the worldwide audience of the internet. For help making this question more broadly applicable, visit the help center. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.


It is grammatically correct, but possibly not in the way intended by the author. The sentence

Well what did I expect who said it would be easy?

can mean the same as the reordered sentence

Well what did I, who said it would be easy, expect?

When read this way, who certainly is a relative pronoun which refers back to I.

Having reviewed the context at Google Book Search I must say there is a real possibility the sentence is worded and punctuated as intended. There is a stream-of-consciousness approach to the text. There are sentence fragments and other deliberate irregularities of text flow and punctuation, even on the same page as the quoted sentence.

  • +1 for including the link to the original, and pointing out the relevence of the surrounding text to answer to a question like this. Correctness is seldom fully determined in a vacuum. – J.R. Dec 22 '12 at 9:49

It is two sentences. It should read:

Well, what did I expect? Who said it would be easy?

I don't know what effect the writer was going for, but muddled thought might be it, yes.

  • 2
    Caught me - I actually started to edit. – StoneyB Dec 21 '12 at 23:35
  • His keyboard might have malfunctioned at the time of writing this part of the book. – Noah Dec 22 '12 at 9:27

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