Relative pronouns

This is the apartment that / for that / for which / which I have been looking for a long time.

Which relative pronoun is correct in above sentence?why?

Comments

  • DavidCrosbieDavidCrosbie ✭✭✭

    In Present Day English for that I have been looking is not considered grammatical There is no reason for this; it used to be grammatical centuries ago (I think), but now it isn't. The rule is not to combine that with a preposition in this way.

    In speech I could say any of the following
    This is the apartment that I've been looking for for a long time.
    This is the apartment which I've been looking for for a long time.
    This is the apartment I've been looking for for a long time.

    None of these work in writing because of the combination for for.

    One possibility in a written style that's not too formal is:
    This is the apartment that I've long been looking for.

    In British English, which and that are interchangeable in the sort of relative clause that doesn't have commas. Some Americans are taught to use only that.

    In speech we often have no relative pronoun at all when the words before (in this case the apartment) represent the OBJECT of the relative clause (in this case I've been looking for the apartment).

    In formal writing, we don't split up two-word verbs like look for. But in formal writing, I don't think we'd use look for — I think we'd prefer search for. So a suitable formal wording might be:
    This is the apartment for which I have long been searching.

  • Thanks for your answer.

  • Hi David,
    It is indeed a very helpful explanation. I would like to ask if the phrase below is correct:
    They should give the money to somebody who they think needs the treatment most.

    I am a little confused. Isn't better to say
    They should give the money to somebody (who) TO WHOM they think needs the treatment most.?
    Thank you in advance!

  • Hi David,
    Your explanation about relative pronouns is very helpful indeed. I would like to ask if the phrase below is correct:
    They should give the money to somebody who they think needs the treatment most. I am a little confused. Isn't better to say
    They should give the money to somebody (who) TO WHOM they think needs the treatment most.?
    The question is posted in the topic as well.
    Thank you in advance!

  • Why is being used which?
    To make it clear which person or thing we're talking about.

  • @dana1manolescu,
    They should give the money to somebody who they think needs the treatment most.

    is quite a complicated idea. Let's make it simpler:

    They should give the money to somebody who needs the treatment most.

    The pronoun form who is an obvious choice, because it functions as the SUBJECT of the clause.

    If we add a comment in a simple phrase, we get the same idea as the original sentence

    They should give the money to somebody who — in their opinion — needs the treatment most.

    By using they think rather than in their opinion we complicate the grammar because think is a TRANSITIVE verb — that is to say it's followed by a DIRECT OBJECT. So why not the OBJECTIVE form whom?

    Well, English expects that if a pronoun can be marked as a SUBJECT, then it should be marked. We don't say

    He thought me was joking
    They think him needs the treatment most
    She believes us are right
    I know them won't agree

    The only words I can think of that have distinctive SUBJECTIVE and OBJECTIVE forms in English are

    • me, him, us, them — and derived himself, themselves (some would add themself)
    • whom — and derived whomsoever
  • Thank you,David! It is extremely explanatory to me.

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