Chris
Community Tutor
I like dogs I know are smart So, I was just talking with a student, and realized that I didn't have a good explanation for a very common case of a structure that I've explained at least a hundred times. I'm hoping that one of you excellent people can help me explain this case. 1. I like dogs *that* like to run. 2. I like dogs (that) my mom likes, too. 3. I like dogs (that) I know are smart. In sentence 1, "that" is required, because the second "like" needs a subject. In sentence 2, the "that" is optional, because the second "like" already has a subject. In sentence 3, my instincts strongly tell me that the "that" is optional, and I can find dozens of similar examples from other natives. Obviously, "know" has a subject, but "are" does not. I can't say: WRONG: "I like dogs are smart"--I would need to say "I like dogs THAT are smart." So, why is it acceptable to say "I like dogs I know are smart"? Doesn't that leave "are" without a subject?
Sep 27, 2019 9:46 PM
Answers · 22
>> But following that rule, the only conjugated verbs in English that don’t require subjects are verbs that are part of relative clauses, but aren’t the principal verb of that relative clause. This seems plausible, based on the evidence, though I admit that it seems absurdly complicated. I'm afraid I don't have any better answer. It's possible that you might get more responses if you post this question on the "discussions" board. Not guaranteed, obviously, but maybe worth a shot. Incidentally, one of my old philosophy professors recently posted (on social media) a list of amusingly difficult-to-read sentences with omitted relative pronouns, like these: Mary gave the child the dog bit a Band-Aid. The rowers the ladies suffer stroke in unison. Fat people eat accumulates. Several of the examples on my professor's list resembled your pattern #1, though, in that they included two verbs but only one subject. For example: The florist sent the flowers was pleased. The girl told the story cried. To me, these seem completely wrong. The word "who" (or "that") seems absolutely necessary in these cases. But evidently there are at least some dialects of English where this kind of structure is okay. Probably not helpful at all, just something that came to mind when I saw your question.
September 28, 2019
My claim is that the rule " 'that' can be omitted when it is the object of a relative clause, but not when it is the subject of a relative clause" is just an instance of the more general rule "every indicative conjugated verb in English requires a subject." The more general rule justifies the more specific rule. The REASON that it looks bad to say "I like dogs are smart" is because "are" requires an explicit subject. That same requirement should be true in "I like dogs I know are smart." Yes, we can bend the more general rule when two verbs share the same subject, but that is easily explainable. This seems to be the only place where the general rule is completely broken, and that's what confuses me.
September 28, 2019
'that' is the subject of 'are', Chris. (I like dogs THAT I know are smart.) But, because it's an object pronoun of the relative clause, we omit it. Or, at least, have that choice.
September 28, 2019
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Chris
Language Skills
Chinese (Mandarin), English, French
Learning Language
Chinese (Mandarin), French