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Dear teachers,

I came across the following two sentences in a grammar book:

1. Twenty demonstrators were arrested, some of whom the police subsequently charged.

2. Lawyers have been hired to represent the demonstrators some of whom the police subsequently charged.

The author of the grammar said sentence 1 is a non-defining relative clause, and sentence 2 is a defining relative clause. Adding on, he said sentence 2 is not grammatical. All he said was, such a construction is not possible in defining relative clause.

Could someone tell me why sentence 2 is not correct?

Thank you.

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Selvakumar1. Twenty demonstrators were arrested, some of whom the police subsequently charged.

The relative clause does not define (specify) these demonstrators. Thus, it is a non-defining clause and, by strict rules of grammar, must be set off by a comma.

The sentence without the clause still retains its essential meaning. Thus, the clause is a non-essential clause. It only gives some additional information.

Twenty demonstrators were arrested.

In contrast, here is an example of a defining (essential) clause

The people who were demonstrating against the supreme court's recent decision were arrested.

If the clause is removed, the sentence loses some of its meaning. We have no idea which people are being referred to.

The people were arrested.

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some of whom (= some of the demonstrators) includes the demonstrators, so it can't be defining the demonstrators. That is, the relative clause can't be telling us more specifically which demonstrators are meant because it only goes on to talk about some of them.

For example, if I see a display of shirts for sale in a department store, and I say to you These are expensive shirts, and you weren't looking in that direction so you ask Which shirts are you talking about? and I say Some of them are blue, then I haven't really answered your question. I haven't really specified which shirts I was talking about. I've just given you more information about some of the shirts.

The same principle applies to all of whom/which, both of whom/which, etc.

This means there's always a comma before a relative clause that starts with one of these phrases.

I don't know why the author said sentence 2 was ungrammatical. Maybe it was only because there's no comma.

CJ

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AlpheccaStars
Selvakumar1. Twenty demonstrators were arrested, some of whom the police subsequently charged.

The relative clause does not define (specify) these demonstrators. Thus, it is a non-defining clause and, by strict rules of grammar, must be set off by a comma.

The sentence without the clause still retains its essential meaning. Thus, the clause is a non-essential clause. It only gives some additional information.

Twenty demonstrators were arrested.

In contrast, here is an example of a defining (essential) clause

The people who were demonstrating against the supreme court's recent decision were arrested.

If the clause is removed, the sentence loses some of its meaning. We have no idea which people are being referred to.

The people were arrested.

Thank you very much, AlpheccaStars. I appreciate it.

I quite understand the first sentence. I was puzzled about the second sentence. The author said that it was not grammatical. Doesn't the phrase "some of whom" define "the demonstrators"?

 CalifJim's reply was promoted to an answer.
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SelvakumarDoesn't the phrase "some of whom" define "the demonstrators"?

It refers to the demonstrators, but it does not define them. It does not tell us who the demonstrators are, or distinguish them from other demonstrators.

You are confusing antecedents (a noun that a pronoun refers to) with the character of the relative clause ( defining/non-defining; essential/non-essential)

The commas sometimes make a huge difference in meaning.


Here is an example:

1. The demonstrators who are over 21 years old will be arrested. (no commas!)

The underlined clause specifies (determines or qualifies) which demonstrators will be arrested.
If John (18 years old) is one of the demonstrators, he will not be arrested.
If Malcolm (32 years old) is one of the demonstrators, he will be arrested.

The pronoun "who" in both sentences refers to the noun "demonstrators."

2. The demonstrators, who are over 21 years old, will be arrested. (commas!)

The sentence above, with commas, is completely different. It tells us that all the demonstrators are over 21 years old and all of them will be arrested.

AlpheccaStars, thank you ever so much for your detailed answer and patience. I, truly, appreciate it.

I have now got a better picture of the rules governing relative clauses. (I shall not, however, pretend that I have understood it well enough, but I think I have now a better understanding of it. I shall study your explanation once again to understand it even better).

Thank you very much, AlpheccaStars.