The car, the wheel of which was broken, crashed into a tree.

The bungalows of which the roofs are leaking ought to...


The bungalows, the roofs of which are leaking, ought to..



I am wondering the reason why the position of *of which* has been changed.



And, what is the difference and similarity between using of which and whose?


Thanks in advance
Last edited {1}
Original Post
quote:
The bungalows of which the roofs are leaking ought to...
That specimen is incorrect. The other two are fine:
quote:
The car, the wheel of which was broken, crashed into a tree. . . .

The bungalows, the roofs of which are leaking, ought to . . . .
"The wheel of which was broken" and "The roofs of which are leaking" are relative clauses. That "of which" needs to appear where it does and not at the beginning of those relative clauses may be seen by the fact that it is correct to say "The wheel of the car was leaking" and "The roofs of the bungalows are leaking" but incorrect to say "Of the car the wheel was leaking" and "Of the bungalows the roofs are leaking."
quote:
And, what is the difference and similarity between using of which and whose?
There is no difference in meaning in such examples. It would be much better to use "whose" in place of "of which" in your examples. However, if you use "whose," you must place it at the beginning of the relative clause (but see below) and delete "the." DON'T use the car, the wheel whose was broken or The car, whose the wheel was broken.

In your two examples, "whose" is a possessive relative pronoun that means "its" / "the car's" (in the first example) and "their" / "the bungalows'" (in the second example). Because the sentence "The car's wheel was broken" makes it sound as if the car had only one wheel, it would be better to introduce the relative clause in that example with "one of whose wheels." Better yet would be to refer simply to "the car with a broken wheel" (if the part about the broken wheel is restrictive) or to "the car, which had a broken wheel" (if the relative clause is nonrestrictive).
  • The car with a broken wheel crashed into a tree.
  • The car that had a broken wheel crashed into a tree.
  • The car, which had a broken wheel, crashed into a tree.
  • The bungalows, whose roofs are leaking, ought to be worked on.
  • The bungalows whose roofs are leaking ought to be worked on.
Do you know about the distinction between restrictive (or defining) and nonrestrictive (or nondefining) relative clauses? In each of your examples, the relative clause should be set off with commas only if it is nonrestrictive. Otherwise, if the relative clause is restrictive, the commas can and should be deleted.
Last edited by David, Moderator
Hello, Nima,

OK, it seems I was mistaken. Apologies. The phrase the bungalows of which the roofs are leaking is grammatical. However, it is SAVAGELY unnatural. It is the LAST construction that anyone with an ear for the English language would use to express the idea you mean to express.

You are the only person on the World Wide Web who has written the bungalows of which the roofs. Meanwhile, the combination the houses of which the roofs has NO results, and the results for the house of which the roof are ALL NONNATIVE.

It was not the sentence He's written a book of which I've forgotten the name that convinced me that I am obligated, against all my sensibilities, to say that your bungalows example is technically grammatical. A book of which I've forgotten the name relates to I've forgotten the name of it.

That's a different case: the bungalows of which the roofs are leaking does not relate to the roofs are leaking of them, but instead to the roofs of them are leaking. Having looked into the matter, I see that that construction, which is extremely uncommon, has been officially endorsed as grammatical:
  • "The investigation of which the results will soon be published . . . " (Quirk et al., 1985).

  • "He came up with a strange plan, of which the purpose escapes me" (Huddleston and Pullum, 2002).
In conclusion, your example is savagely nonnative but grammatical.
First, I do really appreciate all your priceless explanations.

And, considering what you have explained and explanations on the other site, would you tell me if the following are all correct? and which one you use? and do the following play/have the same rule?

He's written a book of which I've forgotten the name. "The car (of which someone had broken the wheel) crashed.

The bungalows, the roofs of which are leaking, ought to..

The bungalows of which the roofs are leaking ought to...


He's written a book of which I've forgotten the name.



............................
Have I properly concluded from all those explanations the following?

In addition, considering what you have taught me, I should say the houses the roofs of which are leaking out to... instead of the houses of which the roofs are leaking ought to....



And, finally, what about the following?

http://english.stackexchange.c...enthetical-modifiers

The houses on Canal street, of which many had been damaged in the storm, looked abandoned.
Last edited by nima
It was not the sentence He's written a book of which I've forgotten the name that convinced me that I am obligated, against all my sensibilities, to say that your bungalows example is technically grammatical. A book of which I've forgotten the name relates to I've forgotten the name of it.

That's a different case: the bungalows of which the roofs are leaking does not relate to the roofs are leaking of them, but instead to the roofs of them are leaking. Having looked into the matter, I see that that construction, which is extremely uncommon, has been officially endorsed as grammatical:


Would you please in a more simple way compare those cases?

That's a different case
Last edited by nima
Hello, Nima,

All of the examples in your last two posts are grammatically correct:
  • He's written a book of which I've forgotten the name.
  • The car of which someone had broken the wheel crashed.
  • The bungalows, the roofs of which are leaking, ought to..
  • The bungalows of which the roofs are leaking ought to...
  • He's written a book of which I've forgotten the name.
  • The houses on Canal street, of which many had been damaged in the storm, looked abandoned.
I would, however, use none of them. Instead I might say:
  • He's written a book that I've forgotten the name of.
  • He's written a book whose name I've forgotten.
  • The car with a broken wheel crashed.
  • The bungalows with leaking roofs ought to . . . .
  • The houses on Canal street, many of which had been damaged in the storm, looked abandoned.
I had noticed yesterday one of the discussions you've been having on the Stack Exchange (this one). Ordinarily I would not object to something someone has asserted on another site, but in this case I'm going to make an exception. Blessed Geek says:
quote:
"Traditionally, whose is a pronoun usable as substitution to human entities. Whilst which is a pronoun normally used as substitution to non-human entities. . . .

Finally, Canadian/US colloquial English did us in with the liberal usage of whose. Just like much of US/Canadian English - British English was haplessly and helplessly sucked into acquiescing to those patterns of usage."
I thought it might interest you and others following this thread to know that the Englishman Henry Watson Fowler — perhaps the most famous, strict, and old-fashioned counselor on English usage, who strenuously advocated maintaining the traditional British distinction between "will" and "shall," for example — strenuously objected to the view expressed by Blessed Geek. The following passage was written in 1926:
quote:
". . . in the starch that stiffens English style one of the most effective ingredients is the rule that whose shall refer only to persons; to ask a man to write flexible English, but forbid him whose 'as a relative pronoun of the inanimate', is like sending a soldier on 'active' service & insisting that his tunic collar shall be tight & high; activity and stocks do not agree. . . . Let us, in the name of common sense, prohibit the prohibition of whose inanimate; good writing is surely difficult enough without the forbidding of things that have historical grammar, & present intelligibility, & and obvious convenience, on their side, & lack only — starch."

-- Fowler, H. W. A Dictionary of Modern English Usage (1st Ed., edited by David Crystal). Oxford University Press: Oxford, 1926.
So, don't take it from me. Take it from Fowler, "the Warden of English," himself: it is not more correct to use the bungalows the roofs of which or the bungalows of which the roofs than to use the bungalows whose roofs. In fact, the latter phrase is much better than the other two, which are incredibly "starchy" by comparison.
quote:
Would you please in a more simple way compare those cases?
It's a bit complicated, but I'll try. Let's begin by looking at the following sentences:
    (1a) He has written a book.
    (1b) I have forgotten the name of it.
    (1c) He has written a book of which I've forgotten the name.

    (2a) The bungalows ought to be repaired.
    (2b) The roofs of them are leaking.
    (2c) The bungalows of which the roofs are leaking ought to be repaired.
Sentences (1b) and (2b) differ from each other in an interesting way. In (1b), the of-phrase modifies the noun phrase that is the object of the verb (forgotten). In (2b), the of-phrase modifies the noun phrase that is the subject of the sentence.

It is because of that difference that, in my opinion, (1c) is so much easier to understand than (2c). A relative clause beginning with of which naturally leads the reader to suspect that which, the relative pronoun, belongs to the verb phrase, rather than to the subject phrase, of the relative clause when constructed as a stand-alone sentence.

In other words, it would be natural, at least on first glance, for a native speaker to parse the relative clause in the sentence The bungalows of which the roofs are leaking ought to be repaired as expressing the idea The roofs are leaking of bungalows! Smile

That's the main reason I detest the sentence The bungalows of which the roofs are leaking ought to be repaired. The other reason is that there is absolutely no reason to write such a convoluted sentence when one can simply use The bungalows with leaking roofs ought to be repaired.

Nevertheless, as I stated in my last post, my research has led me to the conclusion that your sentence is indeed grammatical, and that there are examples of that construction that are considerably less awkward and much easier to parse: The investigation of which the results will soon be published . . .; He came up with a strange plan, of which the purpose escapes me.

Of which seems to be special in its ability to be used this way, where it modifies the subject of the relative clause, and need not be a constituent of the verb phrase. I don't think this is possible with any other preposition. Consider the case of on which. We can say:
    (3a) The cat on the mat is cute.
    (3b) The mat is covered with hair.
But we absolutely cannot say:
    (3c) *The mat on which the cat is cute is covered with hair.
Notice, too, that if we change the first sentence to read The cat on the mat is sleeping, although the third sentence will then be grammatical, it will also be interpreted in such a way that on which relates to the verb phrase:
    (4a) The cat on the mat is sleeping.
    (4b) The mat is covered with hair.
    (4c) The mat on which the cat is sleeping is covered with hair.
In (4c), we understand on which the cat is sleeping to be a relative clause relating to the sentence The cat is sleeping on the mat rather than to the sentence The cat on the mat is sleeping.

Dear David,

You are a hero in being so patient and giving such detailed (and perfectly formatted!) explanations with citations. I’m so grateful that I saw your confirmation on “of which the noun”, and I’m just happy that what I withdrew from memory was correct. 

I was also surprised to find out from your example of “the cat on the mat” that we do not form a relative cause with a descriptive phrase that is put directly after a noun. I think the reason might be that the phrase acts somehow like a relative clause.

Thank you so much!

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