When to Omit Relative Pronouns, Prepositions & Redundant Phrases

By Irina Ghazazyan

Omission of Relative Pronouns

In English language a subjective relative pronoun ‘who’ cannot be omitted, but an objective relative pronoun ‘whom’ can be left out, e.g. ‘He is the man who was awarded a contract.’ (‘who’- cannot be omitted), but ‘He is the man we awarded a contract.’ (whom – can be omitted).

The same relative pronoun cannot be used both as the object of one verb and the subject of another, except for ‘whoever’, ‘whomever’. Let’s consider the following example: ‘Do what you like and makes you feel good.’ Here ‘what’ is supplied as the object of ‘like’, but omitted as the subject of ‘makes’, which makes the sentence an awkward one. The correct sentence is ‘Do what you like and what makes you feel good.’ or ‘Do whatever you like that makes you feel good.’

Omission of a Repeated Preposition

‘It was an event the significance of which no one was entirely aware.’ the mistake here is in the phrase ‘to be aware of’. Hence we need to supply ‘of’ at the end of the sentence, i.e. ‘It was an event the significance of which no one was entirely aware of.’ Such grammatical errors occur due to the fact that the correct version is harder on the eye and ear than the incorrect version. The sentences with non-standard word order can end with prepositions. In sentences with standard word order a preposition is followed by an object, e.g. ‘We could not agree about the cause of the disaster.’

Omission of a Repeated Modifier

‘We have neither enough time nor resources.’, omitting the adjective ‘enough’ before the second noun is not correct, it should be ‘We have neither enough time nor enough resources.’ However, ‘There is enough supplies and capacity for the event.’ is correct. The reason for this confusion is ‘faulty parallelism’. It should be noted that the omission leaves the meaning intact but is grammatically incorrect.

Omission that Causes Ambiguity

In some cases omission can be grammatically correct but create ambiguity, e.g. ‘Jack loves money more than Jessica’. This sentence does not have precise meaning, and to fix it we should supply ‘than’ clause, i.e. ‘Jack loves money more than Jessica does.’, or ‘Jack loves money more than he does Jessica.’

Another similar example is ‘He was expelled from college for failing in science and French.’, is ambiguous, it should be ‘He was expelled from college for failing in science and in French.’ The word ‘that’ is often omitted in such structures as ‘I believe he will give me a ride.’, (I believe that…) or He said I should leave.’ (he said that….). These omissions are permissible, but sometimes it is not clear where ‘that’ belongs when it is left out, e.g. Our assumptions are that false high earnings will be reported. Here it is not clear where ‘that’ belongs, i.e., ‘Our expectations are that false high earnings will be reported’, or ‘Our expectations are false that high earnings will be reported.’

 Omission of a Redundant Word or a Phrase

Redundancy is repeating the same meaning in different words. Let’s consider the sentence ‘The traffic was as usual as ever.’, which is a very common redundancy because ‘as usual’ and ‘as ever’ mean virtually the same thing, or ‘The weather was equally as bad as yesterday.’, here either ‘equally bad as’ or ‘as bad as’ should be used. Very often ‘equally’ is used as an intensifier, like ‘just’ but ‘equally’ and ‘as’ have the same meaning in this context.

Redundancy is not an error but just an unnecessary use of a modifying word or phrase, i.e. instead of ‘consensus of opinion’ use ‘consensus’, ‘ a variety of different options’ is a ‘a variety of options’, ‘large in size’ means ‘large’ or instead of ‘difficult dilemma’ use ‘dilemma’ it implies complicated, or instead of ‘few in number’ use just ‘few’ or instead of ‘false pretence’ just ‘pretence’ which means deception, should be used, instead of ‘final outcome’ use just ‘outcome’ it means the result, or ‘please, refer back’ just use ‘please, refer’. My favourite one is ‘a free gift’ which implies that there is also ‘a paid gift’ thus you should act now to take advantage of the ‘free gift’. It is advisable to watch out for such redundant expressions – they are like heavily overused clichés.

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