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Hi,

I have been trying to obtain a firm grasp of how to distinguish what can be deleted and what can't be deleted in a situation like the one below,

John who took my pen is here. -- Would you say since 'who' is the subject of the subordinate clause 'who took my pen', 'wjho' has to be there? How would you know 'who' is the subject? Looks to be a subject but can't be sure, to me.

John who is wearing my jacket is here. -- Here, would you say 'who' is not a subject of the subordinate clause 'who is wearing my jacket'? How would you know?

Still confued.
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Hi,

I have been trying to obtain a firm grasp of how to distinguish what can be deleted and what can't be deleted in a situation like the one below, What are you thinking about deleting?

John who took my pen is here. -- Would you say since 'who' is the subject of the subordinate clause 'who took my pen', Yes 'wjho' has to be there? Yes How would you know 'who' is the subject? Try dividing the sentence into clauses and then consider each one separately.

main clause John is here. 'John' is the subject.

subordinate clause who took my pen The pronoun 'who' is the 'person' that performed the action.

Looks to be a subject but can't be sure, to me.

John who is wearing my jacket is here. -- Here, would you say 'who' is not a subject of the subordinate clause 'who is wearing my jacket'? 'Who' is is the subject. It's the same situation a the one above. Why do you think it is any different? How would you know?

Please note also that 'who is wearing my jacket' is not a question, so you don't need a question mark.

Best wishes, Clive
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#1 John who took my pen is here.

#2 John who is wearing my jacket is here.

How firm a grasp would you like to obtain? (I know I shouldn't have written that, but I couldn't resist.)

The thing that works for me is to take out the the subject and the "verb" and see if it still makes sense. (That may even be the "rule.")

The reason it works in #2 and not in #1 is the difference in tenses and in verb forms. In "who took my pen" vs "who is wearing my jacket" "who" is the subject in each case, so that's not the difference. (If you took out "who," what would you propose for the subject? Without a subject you have no clause. You might think to claim "John" as the subject, but it can't be the subject of both clauses. You could use a compound predicate: "John is wearing my jacket and is here." )

Notice that in #2 both clauses are present tense. The verb is actually "is wearing," present progressive of "to wear." So you don't actually take out the verb - only the helping verb "is," which leaves you with the present participle, "wearing." You now have a participial phrase, "wearing my jacket," which is just fine. He's wearing it now and he's here now.

In #1, there's no helping verb to take out. You could take out the "who," leaving you with a compound predicate, but you'd need to add a conjunction. "John took my pen and is here." (The two different tenses work, but "is here" is no longer the dominant idea.)

If the original were, "John, who is taking my pulse, is Russian," then it works like #2. "John, taking my pulse, is Russian."

If you use two different tenses, as in the original #1, you'd have, "John, who was taking my pulse, is Russian." That leads to, "John, taking my pulse, is Russian." What happened to your past tense?

So try it, and ask yourself if the meaning is still the same.

Best wishes, - A.
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anonymousJohn, who took my pen, is here.
John, who is wearing my jacket, is here.

These are non-defining relative clauses.

Once you have established the referent for "John" no further defining clause is logically possible.

It can only be defining with 'the': The John who took my pen is here. (More than one man named John is in the universe of discourse here.)

CJ

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John is here - main clause

who took my pen - subordinate clause

'who' is a dummy subject


John is here - main clause

who is wearing my jacket - subordinate clause

'who' is the dummy subject

 CalifJim's reply was promoted to an answer.