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No one / None who has needed a hospital bed | WordReference Forums

Why can 'nobody' be used in a restrictive clause but not in a non-restrictive clause?

1- Nobody who has needed a hospital bed has been denied a hospital bed.
You can't use "nobody" with a non-restrictive clause either.
2- Nobody, who has needed a hospital bed, has been denied a hospital bed.

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Tara2Why can 'nobody' be used in a restrictive clause but not in a non-restrictive clause?

On its own, 'nobody' doesn't have a referent. There is nothing in the real world you can point to and say, "That's nobody". It just means no person at all. It's the absence of any person to refer to.

You can't make a parenthetical remark (i.e., a non-restrictive relative clause) about no person at all. There's nobody to make a remark about. That's like trying to describe the exact color, shape, and size of all the tomatoes in an empty box! You wouldn't say this, would you?

We looked in the box and saw no tomatoes, which were all big and bright red.


The restrictive clause, however, qualifies the concept of "no person at all". It's probably easier to see if you take a look at a different way of expressing it.

Everybody (every person) who needs a bed is given a bed.
[If a person needs a bed, that person is given a bed.]

Here we start with 'every person' and then restrict it so it's not really every person anymore. It's just the people who need beds.


But if we change from 'given a bed' to 'denied a bed', we can change the subject to 'no person' ('nobody'), and the meaning remains the same.

Nobody who needs a bed is denied a bed.
It is never the case that [a person who needs a bed is denied a bed].
[If a person needs a bed, that person [is not denied /is given] a bed.]

CJ

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Of course, grammar can get a little complicated if your name is Nobody. Emotion: big smile

My Name Is Nobody (Italian: Il mio nome è Nessuno) is a 1973 comedy spaghetti western starring Terence Hill and Henry Fonda.

Clive

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Comments  

Very interesting. Many, many thanks CJ for this excellent explanation. Emotion: roseEmotion: roseEmotion: rose

 Clive's reply was promoted to an answer.
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Many thanks Clive. Emotion: roseEmotion: roseEmotion: rose

I very much like Italian language .