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Hello, everyone,

1. “What's that you say?“ (idiomatic expression to mean ‘Have I heard you correctly?’)

2. “What’s that you’re holding?” (used for referring to something that the person you are talking to is holding or wearing, excerpted from Macmillan dictionary)

3. “What's that you were saying earlier?” (excerpt from our local material)

If three sentences above have the same pattern in common, I guess the that above is functioning not as a demonstrative pronoun leading a demonstrative-cleft construction, but as a preceding pronoun restricted by a relative ‘which’ clause (with the objective ‘which’ omitted). If so, I wonder how the demonstrative pronoun ‘that’ could be restricted by a relative ‘which’. Is this case similar to the exceptional usage of ‘those who’ in “Those who saw the performance thought it memorable.”?

I would appreciate it if you kindly explain the function of three ‘that’ above, especially the ‘that’ in 3.

Additionally, the point of my inquiry is how the clause 'you were saying earlier' is joined to the 'that'(demonstrative pronoun) in “What's that you were saying earlier?” I would appreciate it if you explain your parsing way about the structure of this underlined part.

By the way, I parse that "What is that(=not only a demonstrative pronoun but also an antecedent) [(which) you were saying earlier=a relative clause with an objective pronoun - 'which' omitted]?“

Last edited by deepcosmos
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Hi, Deepcosmos,

@deepcosmos posted:

1. “What's that you say?“ (idiomatic expression to mean ‘Have I heard you correctly?’)

2. “What’s that you’re holding?” (used for referring to something that the person you are talking to is holding or wearing, excerpted from Macmillan dictionary)

3. “What's that you were saying earlier?” (excerpt from our local material)

"That" is deictic (i.e. a demonstrative) in those sentences, as well as the antecedent of the relative clauses that follow.

On page 1455 of their The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language (which I was checking to answer another question here), Huddleston and Pullum give precisely this example of a deictic marker:

i. a. What's that he's got in his hand?

"That" is deictic (i.e. a demonstrative) in those sentences, as well as the antecedent of the relative clauses that follow.

On page 1455 of their The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language (which I was checking to answer another question here), Huddleston and Pullum give precisely this example of a deictic marker:

i. a. What's that he's got in his hand?

Ah~ Gustavo, deeply appreciate yours. Then, as my last inquiry, am I plausible to consider as follows?;

1. "What was that(=a deictic pronoun also an antecedent) [(which, or that) you were saying earlier=a relative clause with 'which, or that' omitted). I guess natives are reluctant to use consecutively two 'that's.

2. The original sentence is an exceptional case where a deictic pronoun ‘that’ could be restricted by a relative clause (though the relative which or that has been left out in above), since a deictic pronoun can't be restricted in usual cases, as far as I understand.

Last edited by deepcosmos
@deepcosmos posted:

Hello, everyone,

1. “What's that you say?“ (idiomatic expression to mean ‘Have I heard you correctly?’)

2. “What’s that you’re holding?” (used for referring to something that the person you are talking to is holding or wearing, excerpted from Macmillan dictionary)

3. “What's that you were saying earlier?” (excerpt from our local material)

If three sentences above have the same pattern in common, I guess the that above is functioning not as a demonstrative pronoun leading a demonstrative-cleft construction, but as a preceding pronoun restricted by a relative ‘which’ clause (with the objective ‘which’ omitted). If so, I wonder how the demonstrative pronoun ‘that’ could be restricted by a relative ‘which’. Is this case similar to the exceptional usage of ‘those who’ in “Those who saw the performance thought it memorable.”?

I would appreciate it if you kindly explain the function of three ‘that’ above, especially the ‘that’ in 3.

Additionally, the point of my inquiry is how the clause 'you were saying earlier' is joined to the 'that'(demonstrative pronoun) in “What's that you were saying earlier?” I would appreciate it if you explain your parsing way about the structure of this underlined part.

By the way, I parse that "What is that(=not only a demonstrative pronoun but also an antecedent) [(which) you were saying earlier=a relative clause with an objective pronoun - 'which' omitted]?“

Without offering an analyis, I'd like to share another example of the usage in question:

In the Cambridge International Dictionary of Phrasal Verbs, there's this sentence:

Is that Armani you're wearing or is it a knockoff?

I guess the referent of the demonstrative "that" would be unclear if it stood alone in this case, thus rendering a subseqent relative clause possible.

Last edited by raymondaliasapollyon

Without offering an analyis, I'd like to share another example of the usage in question:

In the Cambridge International Dictionary of Phrasal Verbs, there's this sentence:

Is that an Armani you're wearing or is it a knockoff?

I guess the demonstrative "that" is unclear when it stands alone in this case, thus rendering a subseqent relative clause possible.

Hello, Ray, I'm glad to have fine explanations from you as well as Gustavo, which have got me out of headache for 3 days.

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