Hey guys,

I have a question about the usage of which. Please read the following the exmples to get more what I am asking. Here are you:

1.) A special use of which *(I quoted it from a grammar book)

In an adding claus, we can use which relating to a whole sentence, not just to a noun.

It rained all night, which was good for the graden.

2.) Curated by Felipe Solis, director of Mexico's National Museum of Anthropology, it is the most comprehensive survey of Aztec art and culture ever assembled, even more so than the huge show mounted two years ago by the Royal Academy in london, which was co-curated by Solis and inspired this one. *(I quoted it from The Times Magazine)

My question is how I can tell the highligthed relative clause refering to which sentence or noun in my second example. Also, have you guys got any thumb of rules on using which as a relatiave clause. thanks

Ron
1 2
Hi, Ron. Welcome to English Forums. Thanks for joining us! [<:o)]

In your first example, "which" does in fact refer to a whole sentence (as it should).

But in your second example, it only refers to "the huge show mounted two years ago by the Royal Academy in London," which is not a sentence.

In relative clauses, "which" is often the subject of the clause:
I missed the bus this morning, which was the result of the dog getting loose and my having to chase him all over the neighborhood.
Note that "I missed the bus this morning" is a complete sentence.
But this is surely not a requirement for a relative clause.
My dog, which got loose this morning, caused me to miss the bus.
The relative clause, "which got loose this morning" refers only to my dog.
ronctlsmileMy question is how I can tell the highligthed relative clause refering to which sentence or noun in my second example.
If I've understood your question correctly, I don't see there's any way to tell what "which" refers to (whether "sentence" or "noun") except by looking at what makes sense. For example, "I found my keys, which greatly surprised my wife" could grammatically mean that the keys surprised my wife, but that interpretation is pretty unlikely, so we assume that my finding them was what surprised her.

Probably if one tried hard enough one could come up with ambiguous sentences where both interpretations are feasible.
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When there is no comma before which, you have a restrictive relative clause.
When there is a comma before which, you have a non-restrictive relative clause.

1 Though he was deaf, Beethoven wrote many symphonies which amazed everyone.
2 Though he was deaf, Beethoven wrote many symphonies, which amazed everyone.

In 1 the symphonies themselves amazed people; they were just those kinds of symphonies -- amazing symphonies.
In 2 the fact that a deaf man could write symphonies amazed people.

CJ
In the face of widespread concern about environmental waste, compact disk

manufactures are attempting to find a replacement for the disposable plastic box in

which to package their product.

CJ, Should we not have a clause following which... Can you please help me understand why is above sentence correct?

Thank you
I need a box in which to put my CD.

I need a box in which I can put my CD.

I need a box which I can put my CD in. (We just change the placement of the preposition.)

Here's one with a clause: Here's a box which is just right.

("Which" is the subject of the clause, and a relative pronoun. In your example, it is neither.)

This is the box in which I am going to put my CD. ??Emotion: thinking

I need a place where I can put my CD.

I need a place to put my CD.

I need a place [in which] to put my CD.
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CalifJim1 Though he was deaf, Beethoven wrote many symphonies which amazed everyone.
2 Though he was deaf, Beethoven wrote many symphonies, which amazed everyone.

In 1 the symphonies themselves amazed people; they were just those kinds of symphonies -- amazing symphonies.
In 2 the fact that a deaf man could write symphonies amazed people.
The second sentence is ambiguous. Common sense tells us it probably has the meaning CJ describes but it can also mean that all the symphonies Beethoven wrote amazed everyone. In other words, the antecedent can be the entire main *clause or many symphonies.

CB

* Avangi, a sentence doesn't end with a comma. This sentence consists of two clauses, a main clause and a subordinate clause: He was late, which was exceptional. (All relative clauses are subordinate clauses.)
Hi, CB,

I need a little direction here. This thing is a year and a half old.

I guessed that pokh saw something in Jim's last post that reminded him of a problem he was having.

I was replying to his question about this:

the disposable plastic box in which to package their product.

Where is my sentence ending in a comma to which you refer?

Regards, - A. Emotion: beer Emotion: beer
AvangiWhere is my sentence ending in a comma to which you refer?
Avangi, I'm sorry I got involved in this. I shouldn't have done that. Nowhere does any one of your sentences end in a comma. You just use the word "sentence" instead of "clause" in your first post in this thread: "In your first example, "which" does in fact refer to a whole sentence (as it should)." A relative pronoun can never refer to a sentence, at least not in the conventional styleof writing, but it can refer to a main clause: He was late, which was exceptional.

Some writers take stylistic liberties and may thus begin a sentence with a relative pronoun which refers to the preceding sentence:

He didn't say a word about the affair. Which was to be expected.

Now which does indeed begin a "sentence", but this is of course against the rules of conventional grammar because a relative clause, a subordinate clause, cannot stand on its own as a sentence. I'm not complaining about anything. I'm just stating how things are in my grammatical thinking.

Emotion: beerEmotion: beer[D][D]
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