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We often come across sentences like:

They have invited lots of guests, some of whom are specialists

The chidren, all of whom had played the whole day long, were quite exhausted

It's imperative that we go over the main points, a few of which are still not clear

The products, several of which have been recently launched, seem to be well accepted

Celso Charure, all of whose teachings revolved around developing one's awareness as fully as possible, was an exceptional man

It seems to me that using a present participle in these sentences would also be fine. Is that so or am I wrong?

They have invited lots of guests, some of whom being specialists

The chidren, all of whom having played the whole day long, were quite exhausted

It's imperative that we go over the main points, a few of which still not being clear

The products, several of which having recently been launched, seem to be well accepted

Celso Charure, all of whose teachings having revolved around developing one's awareness as fully as possible, was an exceptional man

On the other hand, sometimes using the present participle just sounds wrong, and I'm not quite sure why. Well, I think usually with stative/liking/emotion verbs it wouldn't work:

Teenagers, most of whom like rock'n roll, are not frequently found in classical concerts (most of whom liking??)

Mark o'Brian, none of whose ideas seem feasible, will probably be turned down
(none of whose ideas seeming feasible???)

Be careful when you handle the boxes, all of which contain very fragile objects
(all of which containing??)

I would appreciate any comments/food for thought on this topic.

Gisele
SÃo Paulo
Brazil

Last edited by Gustavo, Co-Moderator
Original Post

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As far as I know, your non-finite relative clauses are not possible in English.

1. Your finite relative clauses given in the post are non-restrictive. You might change them into absolute structures:

S1.1 The chidren, all of whom had played the whole day long, were quite exhausted.
S1.2 The chidren, all having played the whole day long, were quite exhausted.

2. These IS one kind of non-finite relative clause. It is a restrictive clause, not a non-restrictive one as in your examples:

S2.1 I had nothing on which to focus.
S2.2 I had nothing to focus on.

The restrictive non-finite relative clause bears the following structure:

Prep + Relative pronoun + to-infinitive

Stylistically, the above structure is generally considered (very) formal. S2.2 sounds less formal than S2.1.

Chuncan Feng is correct in the posting below: a relative clause (a.k.a. adjective clause), whether restrictive or nonrestrictive, must have a fully tensed verb. A nonfinite form of a verb, e.g. a present or perfect participle, is not tensed and therefore cannot serve as the verb in a relative clause.

In some cases, as Chuncan Feng says, an absolute construction could be used with expressions of quantity such as some of or many of, instead of an adjective clause, but then the relative pronoun would be replaced by a personal pronoun, e.g. some of them instead of some of whom.

This "absolute" option is available only with medial, not final, relative clauses (and only if the grammatical subject of the medial clause is the same as that of the main clause; see below, Sentence 5). Whereas a medial relative clause provides background information, a sentence-final relative clause provides major information--information that should not be reduced. For this reason the relative clauses in Sentences 1 and 3 are not candidates for reduction to absolute constructions.

1) They have invited lots of guests, some of whom are specialists

The relative clause is final for a good reason: the information in it is of primary, not secondary, importance. An absolute construction would not be natural, except possibly if we add more specific, important information to create some end-weight, for example:

They have invited lots of people, some of them specialists in tropical wildlife management

Still, although the absolute construction would be grammatically acceptable, it is in a hyperformal style that makes it stiff and literary in tone.

2) The children, all of whom had played the whole day long, were quite exhausted = The children, all of them having played the whole day long, were quite exhausted

This version is acceptable but hyperformal.

3) It's imperative that we go over the main points, a few of which are still not clear

As in Sentence 1), the relative clause is sentence-final--the fact that some of the main points are still not clear is important--and therefore it is not possible to reduce it to an absolute construction.

4) The products, several of which have been recently launched, seem to be well accepted = The products, several of them having recently been launched, seem to be well accepted

Again, this is grammatical but hyperformal.

5) Celso Charure, all of whose teachings revolved around developing one's awareness as fully as possible, was an exceptional man

An absolute construction is not possible here, but for a different reason. The relative clause in this sentence cannot be reduced to an absolute construction because it has a different grammatical subject from that of the main clause.

Absolute constructions are effective in the hands of skilled writers writing formal discourse.

Nonrestrictive relative clauses, however, play important roles in discourse and are usually best left as they are.

Marilyn Martin

Last edited by Gustavo, Co-Moderator

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