Author Topic: Grammar Question about relative clauses  (Read 595 times)

Professor Bonerpants

  • Teacher
  • Sasquatch
  • *****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 1,523
  • lord of death
    • View Profile
    • invaders
Grammar Question about relative clauses
« on: January 31, 2014, 03:26:23 PM »
This hurts my brain.
Can anyone explain which of the following examples is correct, and more importantly, why...?

This is a house which was built by my father.
vs.
This was a house which was built by my father.

or
This is the box which was opened by my brother.
vs.
This was the box which was opened by my brother.

Thanks.


Croninokehige

  • Teacher
  • Woolly Mammoth
  • *****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 2,736
  • The King in the West
    • View Profile
Re: Grammar Question about relative clauses
« Reply #1 on: February 02, 2014, 05:54:48 AM »
They're all correct, depending on the context...

In both cases, the first sentence is used as a descriptor for whatever you're indicating with "this", right? This (indicated here) is the house which was built by my father. This (*holds up box*) is the box which was opened by my brother. In both cases the item being described is present (or in a picture or something at least). If you used "was" in this context, it would mean that the house/box no longer held those qualities (having been built by your father/having been opened by your brother). But unless those traits were stripped from them somehow you have to use "is" here.

In the second sentences, they're grammatically acceptable but are used in a different situation. You might say "A building collapsed last night. This was a house which was built by my father. We are worried that he will be sued as a result." Or maybe, "It turns out that one of the Christmas presents had a deadly tarantula inside. This was the box which was opened by my brother. Accordingly, he is at the hospital in critical condition now."

The was sentences refer back to a previously mentioned item but not necessarily one that is present, only one that has been indicated as a subject already.

Does that help at all? This is only based off of my own familiarity with the language, I didn't look anything up.

Professor Bonerpants

  • Teacher
  • Sasquatch
  • *****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 1,523
  • lord of death
    • View Profile
    • invaders
Re: Grammar Question about relative clauses
« Reply #2 on: February 03, 2014, 09:38:35 AM »
Yeah, thanks that does help. 
I was tired of butting heads with my JTE.  She has a grammar book which says that both verbs in a sentence like this should always be in the same tense.
She also pulled out a sheet from last week and said that I had explained it to her differently last time, so I was getting nowhere...

Another one of my JTE's just asked me what is the difference between make curry and cook curry.  But I think I can handle that one...

Jotham

  • Teacher
  • Ltn. Wolf
  • *****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 436
  • Lifer
    • View Profile
Re: Grammar Question about relative clauses
« Reply #3 on: February 03, 2014, 01:27:39 PM »
Even in Sunshine (which we all know is never wrong) they have an example without them being the same;

"Have you ever tried the pies that my father bakes?" (Present perfect followed by present simple)
Wouldn't it be nice, to get on with my neighbours!