# Unrestrictive Relative Clause?

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The chief executive of Apple, Timothy D. Cook, has a prediction: the day will come when tablet devices like the Apple iPad outsell traditional personal computers.

His forecast has backing from a growing number of analysts and veteran technology industry executives, who contend that the torrid growth rates of the iPad, combined with tablet competition from the likes of Amazon.com and Microsoft, make a changing of the guard a question of when, not if.

I notice that the unrestricitve relative clause was used to modify "analysts and veteran technology industry exectutives".

Q1) When a relative clause is part of an indefinite noun phrase, how do you determine whether it should be restrictive or unrestrictive? I haven't been able to find a definitive answer to this question. So please help.

other examples:

ex1) She doesn't own a car, which she wouldn't be able to drive anyway.
ex2) She was wearing a dress that I'd never seen before.

Q2) Why was the preposition "from" chosen over other prepositions?

Q3) "A changing of the guard" refers to a situation where a newcomer takes over someone's position. Correct?

Q4) So in the original example, what does "make a changing of the guard a question of when, not if" mean?

make a changing of the guard a question of when: It is evident that tablets will outsell PCs. It's just a matter of time.
not if: If tablets outsell PCs someday in the future,... We don't need this assumption since the tablet market will eventually outgrow the PC market.

Is that what it means?

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Q1) In the original text, the phrase, "a growing number of analysts and veteran technology industry executives," is not modified by the clause that follows it. The clause, "who contend....not if.", stands by itself. The "who" in it means: "a growing number of...executives." You could put a period after "executive," and then start a new sentence: "They contend that...not if."
Q2) This is an idiomatic construction: "X can expect competition/flak/opposition/etc. from the likes of Y." The word "from" is used in this idiom.
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Q3) The phrase "a changing of the guard" means a wholesale change or a complete change. In this case the complete change is tablet-type pc's with virtual keypads replacing laptops and desktop pc's.

Q4) The phrase, "a question of when, not if," means that the contention is: Tablets will surely replace laptops and desktop pc's in the future; it's just a matter of time till this happens.

A1) You could put a period after "executive," and then start a new sentence.

If this is true, why can't you do the same thing with the following example?

She was wearing a dress that I'd never seen before.

"She was wearing a dress" itself can stand alone as an independent clause and yet, in this case, the restrictive relative clause was used. Why is that?

A2) This is an idiomatic construction: "X can expect competition/flak/opposition/etc. from the likes of Y." The word "from" is used in this idiom.

So what does "competition from X(Amazon) and Y(Microsoft)" mean exactly?

A4) The phrase, "a question of when, not if," means that the contention is: Tablets will surely replace laptops and desktop pc's in the future; it's just a matter of time till this happens.

How would you generalize the meaning of the phrase, "a question of when, not if"?
A1) The clause, "that I'd never seen before," functions as an adjective and modifies "dress". The clause, "who contend...not if.", does not modify "executives." It is an independent clause that can stand alone.

A2) There's also going to be competition from (the likes of - these three words are for effect only and have no real grammatical function) Amazon and Microsoft, because they have their own tablet-type pc's.

A4) The phrase, "...a question of when, not if...", means that the thing mentioned is sure to happen in the future, it's just a matter of time before it does.
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Hi,

There's a difference in meaning here.

competition from Amazon.com and Microsoft These are the two competitors

competition from the likes of Amazon.com and Microsoft The competitors include these two companies and other companies that are similar. In other words, these two are just examples.

Clive
jooneyQ1) When a relative clause is part of an indefinite noun phrase, how do you determine whether it should be restrictive or unrestrictive? I haven't been able to find a definitive answer to this question.
Hmm. It's restrictive if it restricts, that is, narrows down the referent in some way.

a man can refer to any man.
a man who speaks French is narrower.
The set of men who speak French is smaller than the set of (all) men, so the relative clause is restrictive.

Restrictive modifiers help the reader identify the entity that the writer is trying to refer to.

Non-restrictive modifiers do not help in this way. They just give additional information (not "identifying" information) about the entity whose referent is (presumably) already known.

In the case you quote it may have been simply the decision of the writer. I suppose he decided that the relative clause there didn't really help to identify the analysts and executives, but simply added information about their beliefs regarding the situation. Frankly, I would have found the passage equally unremarkable had it not had the comma. Either way seems possible.
jooneyQ2) Why was the preposition "from" chosen over other prepositions?
Because we think of competition (in the sense of a threat) as "coming from (somewhere, someone)" (toward us).
Nevertheless, in other senses, as when there is a race, and all are competing for the first prize, all of the participants are competing with (or against!) each other. (Don't you love prepositions? )
jooneyQ3) "A changing of the guard" refers to a situation where a newcomer takes over someone's position. Correct?
That's one way, but any change of procedures, attitudes, methods, or even ways of thinking can be considered a changing of the guard. In this case it's the change from PCs to tablet devices.
jooneyQ4) So in the original example, what does "make a changing of the guard a question of when, not if" mean? make a changing of the guard a question of when: It is evident that tablets will outsell PCs. It's just a matter of time.not if: If tablets outsell PCs someday in the future,... We don't need this assumption since the tablet market will eventually outgrow the PC market.Is that what it means?
Yes. That's what it means. We don't need to ask if tablets will eventually outsell PCs. We know they will. We only have to ask when this will happen.

CJ
Thank you for your help, Anonymous.
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