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Clause Reduction 2

Reduce modifying clauses with active verb forms

Congress
 

Modifying Clause vs. Reduced Clause 

MODIFYING CLAUSE

Modifying (relative) clauses add information about a noun (N) or noun phrase (NP). Some clauses clearly identify the noun to a specific one (restrictive), and other modifying clauses add extra, "nice to know" information (nonrestrictive). Though informative, the clauses are often wordy. Compare how a full (finite) clause can be changed to a reduced (nonfinite) clause.    

MODIFYING CLAUSE IN PRESENT TENSE

The committee that meets next week will discuss a new bill. (restrictive clause)

The House Committee, which meets next week, will discuss the new bill.  (nonrestrictive clause)

MODIFYING CLAUSE IN PAST TENSE

The committee which proposed an increase in the minimum wage had stiff opposition.  (restrictive clause)

The House Committee on Education and the Workforce, which proposed an increase in the minimum wage, has stiff opposition.   (nonrestrictive clause) 

REDUCED MODIFYING CLAUSE

Below, the modifying clause is less wordy. The relative pronoun—that, which, or who—is omitted, and the verb, an active form (sits, is sitting, sat, has sat, has been sitting) is changed to the present participle form (-ing). The modifier with a full (finite) clause is changed to a modifier with a reduced (nonfinite) clause. Avoid reducing a clause if important information might be lost.     

PARTICIPLE CLAUSE   [NO TIMING EXPRESSED]

The committee meeting next week will discuss a new bill.

Congress, consisting of two houses, is made up of members who are elected by the people.

PARTICIPLE CLAUSE   [NO TIMING EXPRESSED]

The committee proposing an increase in the minimum wage had stiff opposition.

*The House Committee on Education and the Workforce, proposing an increase in the minimum wage, has stiff opposition.

Note that the participle form (-ing) expresses the verb in a general sense: it no longer includes information about the subject, tense, person or number. In this example, the difference in timing of the action of the modifying and the main clause is lost.  As a result, tense information is lost. Do not shorten this modifying clause.

 

* incorrect

minimum wage — lowest amount that can be paid as a salary

opposition (N) —  people who are  against something

stiff (Adj) — not flexible, not willing to compromise

Use commas before and after the clause if the it is a nonidentifying clause (nonrestrictive).

Also see Past Participle Clauses  and Participial Clauses  2 for reducing clauses with passive voice clauses.

 

 

 

 

Reduced Modifying Clause Timing

Express a the timing of a verb in a general sense

 

Modifying Clause—Timing Expressed vs. Not Expressed

MODIFYING CLAUSE TIMING

The verb tense of the modifying clause and the main clause may be the same, but they may also differ depending on the timing and logic of the particular situation. In some cases, the time difference is important and other cases it is not.

SUBJECT MODIFYING CLAUSE PREDICATE + COMP
NP + PRN V ONE TIME FRAME THE OTHER TIME FRAME

The senator

who supports / is supporting/ has supported/ supported was supporting/ will be supporting clean energy  

is explaining/ has explained/ explained/ was explaining/ will be explaining

his plan.

  V TENSE 1 V TENSE 2

The senator

who is supporting clean energy

(now)

used to support coal factories.

(earlier)

 

who was supporting clean energy

(earlier)

is now supporting coal factories.

(now – changed mind)

REDUCED MODIFYING CLAUSE  (NO TIMING)

A reduced (nonfinite) modifying clause expresses the verb in a general sense: it no longer includes information about the subject, tense, person or number. If the modifying clause contains important, unexpected, or contrasting information, it should not be shortened.

SUBJECT MOD CLAUSE VERB + COMP
  PRESENT PRESENT or PAST

The senator

supporting clean energy 

(OK)

is explaining his plan.

was explaining his plan.

  V TENSE 1 V TENSE 2

The senator

supporting clean energy 

(understood as "now")

used to support coal and fossil fuel.

(understood as earlier)

 

*supporting clean energy 

(unclear time contrast)

is now supporting coal factories.

 

See section below for other examples of unclear modifying clauses. 

Also see Misrelated Clauses.

 

 

 

 

Common Mistakes

Errors and Solutions

 

Error and Solution

ERROR

*The Senate, discussing bills, reviews and passes them. 

This modifying clause is unclear. Is the Senate actively discussing bills as it reviews and passes them, or is this a series of actions? 

*The speaker dropping his glasses took four vacations with his private jet last year. 

This modifying clause is unclear. Did speaker take four vacations at the same time as dropping his glasses, or does "dropping his glasses" identify the speaker who took four vacation? 

*A translator speaking several languages is very valuable.

The time frame is awkward in the shortened sentence.  Is the speaker valuable as s/he actively  speaks several languages, or does "speaking several language" identify a translator who can speak several languages.

*A man reaching his goals will be very happy in life. 

The time frame is awkward.  Will the happiness occur at the same time or later? 

 

SOLUTION

The Senate discusses, reviews and passes bills.
The sentence would be better stated as a series of verbs.

The Senate, which discusses bills, reviews and passes them. ("which discusses bills" add extra information about what the Senate job is.)

The speaker who just dropped his glasses took four vacations with his private jet last year. 
Keep the full clause so that it is clear that it identifies which person.

The speaker who is constantly dropping his glasses took four vacations with his private jet last year.
Keep the full clause to make the time clear: one event or multiple events.

A translator that can speak several languages is very valuable.

See participial adjectives Ongoing. 

A man who can reach his goals will be very happy in life.  
Shortening a clause with a modal will cause a change in meaning; it doesn't work.

A man who reaches his goals will be very happy in life. 
Use the full clause.

 

*Yellow highlighted words are examples of incorrect usage.
Related topic: Gerund-Participle: What is the difference? 

 

 

 

 

 

 

► Show Grammar Notes and Works Cited ▼ Hide Grammar Notes

Grammar Notes (Advanced)

Traditional and Linguistic Description

 

 

Traditional and Linguistic Description

TRADITIONAL DESCRIPTION

That + Be Deletion  Rule:    In a modifying clause with a be verb form (prepositional phrase, a passive verb or a progressive verb):

     1)  Omit the subject pronoun (that, who / whom, which).
     2)  Omit the be verb. 

Modified clause: The federal agency — that was locating the prison on Alcatraz — preferred the isolation of the island.

 

"An adjective phrase is a reduction of an adjective clause. It modifies a noun. It does not contain a subject and a verb."

(Azar "Reducing Adjective Clauses to Adjective Phrases" 13-11)

 

 

"A participle is often used intead of a relative pronoun and full verb."

(Swan "Reduced relative clauses" 498.10)

 

LINGUISTIC DESCRIPTION

A finite clause (containing a verb marked with tense) can be changed to a nonfinite subordinate clause (containing a verbal form – a past participle, gerund-participle, or infinitive) which becomes a modifying part of another sentence element —adjectival, adverbial, or nominal.

 

Finite clause  — which consists of two houses—  the clause has the internal structure of a sentence--it has a subject and a verb marked with tense.

 

Nonfinite clauseconsisting of two houses—  the clause has a verbal form, a participle, not marked by tense. The clause becomes part of another sentence element, in this case, the subject—the congress.

 

Modified clauseThe federal agency — locating the prison on Alcatraz — preferred the isolation of the island.

"Non-finite clauses as modifiers and supplements" (Huddleston 14 §9) 

  

 

 

 

Relative Clause vs. Reduced Clause

FULL MODIFYING CLAUSE

The full modifying clause still has a subject (which) and a verb (consists) marked for tense and person agreement. This is also called a finite clause.                                                                                                                                          

Detail of relative clause diagram
REDUCED MODIFYING CLAUSE

The reduced modifying clause no longer has a subject and the verb is no longer marked for tense or person agreement.  This reduced clause is also called a nonfinite clause.   Also see Nonfinite Clauses, Nonfinite Forms.

detail of reduce relative clause modifier
 

Clause; Word Functions; Finite / Nonfinite; NP –noun phrase; N – noun; VP – verb phrase; V – verb; Det. – determiner

 

 

Works Cited

  • Azar, Betty Schrampfer, and Stacy A. Hagen. Understanding and Using English Grammar. 4th ed., Pearson Education, 2009.
  • Huddleston, Rodney D., and Geoffrey K. Pullum. The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language. Cambridge UP, 2002.
  • Swan, Michael. Practical English Usage. 3rd ed., Oxford UP, 2005.

 

 

 

 

Practice 1 

Health

basket of vegetables
 

 

Reduce the modifying clause to a participial clause.

  1. Select the response from the list that best completes the sentence. 
  2. Compare your response to the feedback by clicking the "check" or the "check 1-10" button at the bottom.

 

1.
A healthy diet that includes fruit and fiber will decrease one's risk of cancer.


2.
A family that takes vitamins has fewer visits to the doctor.
   

3.
The study said that children who attended preschool often had more colds.


4.
Joggers who will run in the marathon should get to the stadium early to warm up.

  

5.
A person who does at least 30 minutes of exercise a day will feel better.

A person at least 30 minutes of exercise a day will feel better.

6.

7.

8.

9.

10.

 

 

 

 

 

Practice 2

Modern Politicians

young politico
 

 

Read (with full clauses)

Politicians who are running for office are having to make changes in order to appeal to today's youth.  Old-style politicians who boast twenty-five years or more of experience are having difficulty getting younger voters to join their campaigns. A politician who knows how the system works is less valued than a politician who imagines how the system can work in the future. Political loyalties that were once solid and unlikely to change now shift quickly, particularly with so many independent voters. The political power of unions that supported candidates in the past are now weakening and under serious attack.

In the past, politicians who were successful only had to concern themselves with effectively using the television and the news media. Nowadays, politicians who may know nothing about tweeting and posting on social media sites have to appear as if they do. Modern politicians who run for office require a lot of money for expenses. At the same time, modern politicians cannot appear wealthy; they must appear to be like the average person who is struggling with work, family and healthcare. A successful, modern politician is charismatic, captures the imagination of the country's youth and motivates them to work for the good of all.

appeal to (V) – be attractive; gain favor with

boast (V) – to talk too proudly about one's accomplishments

charismatic (Adj) – having a natural ability to attract and interest other people and get their admiration

loyalty (N) –  the quality of remaining faithful to friends

once (adv.) –at some time in the past but not now

potentially (adv.) –  having future possibility to change

struggle (V) – to try extremely hard to achieve something, even though it is very difficult

weaken (V) – become less powerful

 

 

 

Correct or Incorrect?

  1. Determine whether the clause is grammatically correct. Select the option correct or incorrect.
  2. Compare your response to the feedback by clicking the "Check" or "Check 11-20" button at the bottom.

 

11.
Politicians who running for office are having to make changes in order to appeal to today's youth.

   

12.
Old-style politicians boasting twenty-five years or more of experience are having difficulty getting younger voters to join their campaigns.

   

13.
A politician knowing how the system works is less valued than a politician who imagines how the system can work in the future.

   

14.
Political loyalties were once solid and unlikely to change now shift quickly, particularly with so many independent voters.

   
15.
The political power of unions supported candidates in the past are now weakening and under serious attack.

   

16.
In the past, politicians being successful only had to concern themselves with effectively using the television and the news media.

   
17.
Nowaday, politicians knowing nothing about tweeting and posting on social media sites have to appear as if they do.

   

18.
Modern politicians require a lot of money for expenses running for office.

   

19.
At the same time, modern politicians cannot appear wealthy; they must appear to be like the average person struggled with work, family and healthcare.

   

20.
A successful, modern politician is charismatic, capturing the imagination of the country's youth and motivates them to work for the good of all.