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Pronominalization: A Standard Approach to Relativization

Pronominalization is the use of a pronoun instead of a noun. Relativization is when a noun or noun phrase in an embedded sentence is deleted or pronominalized (see Complementizers post).

Pronominalization is appropriate when the noun in an embedded clause (a constituent part of another clause) is identical to the noun in the matrix clause (which contains the embedded clause). In referring to the noun in the matrix clause, a resumptive pronoun (a co-referential noun phrase) is often used. Look at these examples where the noun in the matrix clauses are replaced by the pronoun it in the embedded clauses:

  • He knew that the amount would be a hard thing for them to figure it out.
  • He steered clear of the danger that manifested itself as the individual’s wanting more credit than he or she could afford to repay it.
  • He was suddenly worried that he’d allowed their silence to have made the situation worse than he had calculated it.

SUMMARY/OBSERVATIONS: When a co-referential noun phrase appears inside another relative clause, it is not deleted but instead pronominalized. Notice also that each of the resumptive pronouns is obligatory because the verb preceding it is transitive.

Garie McIntosh
Garie McIntosh
Garie McIntosh considers himself a story-telling communicator and a grammar enthusiast. His career focus is to write novels and educate others on the effective use of language in literary manuscripts. His objective, via this focus, is to make the elements and tools of his own success available through the educational and grammatical linguistic material that he produces for academic modules available on this website. These elements and tools would also be available through his educational and grammatical editing-service business, McIntoshLinguistics, which aims to formalize its approach through a process-method. Garie's goal and purpose are to write stories with strong, authentic characters that are defined by strong writing and themes and thereby reinforce the power of communication. He has written and published his first novel, What's in a Name.

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