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Is there a way to know when non-defining relative clauses can be reduced and when they can't?

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Reducing relative clauses

Some types of relative clauses can be “reduced”— the relative pronoun and maybe other words can be removed. You might reduce the clause to make your writing more concise or to add sentence variety.

Restrictive (non-defining / essential) relative clauses can be reduced in two ways.

Subject pronouns can be deleted if –ing is added to the verb.

    I like the paintings that hang in the lobby. (The relative pronoun is the subject in the relative clause.)
    I like the paintings hanging in the lobby.

Object pronouns can be deleted.

    I like the bike that my father gave me.
    I like the bike my father gave me..

Non-restrictive (non-defining) relative clauses can be reduced in one way; subject pronouns with “be” verbs can be deleted.

      I am moving to Louisville, KY, which is home to the Muhammad Ali Museum.
    I am moving to Louisville, KY, home to the Muhammad Ali Museum.
      My mother, who is an excellent cook, is thinking of opening a restaurant.
    My mother, an excellent cook, is thinking of opening a restaurant.

There is a lot more detail here: https://www.thoughtco.com/reduced-relative-clauses-1211107

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The crucial property of relative clauses is that they contain an element - actually present or understood - that is anaphorically related to an antecedent from which it derived its interpretation.

If the relativised element is dropped the clause can no longer be called a relative clause - it may still be a modifier, but it's a different kind of clause, a non-finite one. Compare:

[1] People who live near the site will have to be evacuated.

[2] People living near the site will have to be evacuated.

[2] is semantically similar to [1] but it's not a 'reduced' relative clause, not a relative clause at all. This is evident from the fact that there is no possibility of it containing a relative phrase: we can't say *people who living near the site ... .

Thus the underlined element in [2] is not a 'reduced' relative clause but a gerund-participial clause.

The examples in [1] and [2] are of defining clauses. The same applies to non-defining clauses:

[1] The tiger, who was lying in wait in the long grass, could detect a sense of fear in its prey.

[2] The tiger, lying in wait in the long grass, could detect a sense of fear in its prey.

Not, though, that the underlined clause in [2] is not a reduced clause: it's a non-reduced gerund-participial clause.

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The term 'reduced relative clause' is a misnomer and best avoided.

Comments  

Can you give an example of a reduced relative clause vs a non-reduced relative clause?

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Excellent. Many thanks AS!!!

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EnglishUSA

Can you give an example of a reduced relative clause vs a non-reduced relative clause?

Back in the day they used to call it Whiz-Deletion.

That's the deletion of a wh-word (including 'that') and a form of be (e.g., is, pronounced "iz", hence the name).

Non-reduced
The picture [which is hanging on the wall] was painted by a famous artist.

Reduced
The picture [hanging on the wall] was painted by a famous artist.


Nowadays it seems that more and more structures are being called "reduced relative clauses" in traditional grammar. I don't know exactly why this has happened. By offering alternate ways of expressing ideas, the whole topic belongs perhaps more under writing style than under grammar.

I had never heard of a reduced relative clause until I joined this forum.

CJ