Home TEFL forum Grammar & Vocabulary Relative pronoun-antecedent agreement

Relative pronoun-antecedent agreement

Viewing 4 posts - 1 through 4 (of 4 total)
Reply to this topic
  • andy
    Participant
    25 June, 2009 at 8:53
    • Total posts: 4

    One of my colleagues came up with the following question concerning the relative pronoun-antecedent agreement. Here’s her question:

    Jim is one of the boys that swim (or swims?) well.

    The problem here is whether the verb "swim" should agree with boys, or with one. Does an antecedent by definition refer to the word immediately preceding the relative pronoun (as that in this case)? Does it make any differences to the verb in a relative clause if we place a modifier, like "one of the" here?

    Thanks for all the help!

    dan
    Moderator
    23 July, 2009 at 11:49
    • Total posts: 770

    Reply To: on relative pronoun-antecedent agreement

    Jim is one of the boys that swim (or swims?) well.

    Strictly speaking, it should be "swim", because the verb in the relative clause (i.e. "swim") should agree with the subject of the relative clause (i.e."that", which has a plural reference "the boys"), not with the subject of the main clause (i.e. "Jim").

    But… The sentence is also saying, basically, "Jim swims well", which is why informally, it is very common to say "Jim is one of the boys that swims well".

    Hope that helps.

    Dan

    brain train
    Participant
    20 August, 2009 at 5:48
    • Total posts: 3

    Reply To: on relative pronoun-antecedent agreement

    By the way, it should be "Jim is one of the boys WHO (not THAT) swim well." :)

    dan
    Moderator
    4 September, 2009 at 10:37
    • Total posts: 770

    Reply To: on relative pronoun-antecedent agreement

    Hi brain train

    You’re right that who can also be used – but in defining relative clauses, we can replace who with that.

    Dan

Viewing 4 posts - 1 through 4 (of 4 total)

Please log in to reply to this topic.