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Noun modifier with "which"

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01 Jul 2009, 03:51
I know the relative pronoun, "which", only modifies the noun immediately preceding it, but if the noun is "X of Y", does "which" modify "X of Y" or just "Y"?

For example,
Increasing demand on the Chattahoochee River could alter the saline content of Apalachicola Bay, which... <--- does "which" modify "Apalachicola Bay" or "the saline content of Aaplachiocola Bay"?

Can someone please also explain the difference between "which" and "in which" and their usage?

Thanks!!
If you have any questions
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Re: Noun modifier with "which" [#permalink]

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01 Jul 2009, 05:49
gotomba wrote:
I know the relative pronoun, "which", only modifies the noun immediately preceding it, but if the noun is "X of Y", does "which" modify "X of Y" or just "Y"?

For example,
Increasing demand on the Chattahoochee River could alter the saline content of Apalachicola Bay, which... <--- does "which" modify "Apalachicola Bay" or "the saline content of Aaplachiocola Bay"?

Can someone please also explain the difference between "which" and "in which" and their usage?

Thanks!!

As you clearly mentioned that 'which' modifies the noun immediately preceding it, it at times also refers to the entire sentence preceding it.
e.g. It emerged that Edna made the complaint, which surprised everyone.

Now, what is not clear here is that what is surprising? whether the complaint or that Edna made it. In these case, we look at the complete sentence preceding 'which'. So, here what is surprising is that Edna made the complaint.

Suppose the sentence that you have written is:
Increasing demand on the X river could alter the saline content of Y bay, which can be detrimental for the marine life.
So, here 'which' is indicating the 'increasing demand on X..'.

'in which' is normally used to introduce a relative clause after a noun that refers to a place or time.
e.g. In the left drawer there is a wooden box, in which my ring is kept.

I hope that clears some of your doubts, but if you can give the sentences that are confusing, then probably, a better explanation can be provided.
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Re: Noun modifier with "which" [#permalink]

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02 Jul 2009, 21:44
Thanks Aknine!

Here's an example:

Unlike the body’s inflammatory response to cuts and sprains, in which widespread swelling and stiffness immobilize the injured area until it has healed, the body’s more localized response to sunburn results in a distinct line dividing affected and unaffected areas of the skin.

In this sentence here, is it because "widespread swelling and stiffness" is in the cuts and sprains and which refers to cuts and sprains, so we use "in which" here?

Thanks!!
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Re: Noun modifier with "which" [#permalink]

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03 Jul 2009, 21:43
gotomba wrote:
Here's an example:
Unlike the body’s inflammatory response to cuts and sprains, in which widespread swelling and stiffness immobilize the injured area until it has healed, the body’s more localized response to sunburn results in a distinct line dividing affected and unaffected areas of the skin.

In this sentence here, is it because "widespread swelling and stiffness" is in the cuts and sprains and which refers to cuts and sprains, so we use "in which" here?

You are correct that 'in which' here refers to the body's inflammatory responses to cuts and sprains, and it is being used as a more precise alternative to simply using 'where'.
Here is another example that will help us get a clearer idea.
- Near where I live there is a wood where you can find woodpeckers.
or
- Near where I live there is a wood in which you can find woodpeckers.

This is similar to other cases where:
'at which' is a more precise alternative to 'where'
e.g. The fancy dress party, where the men all turned up as gangsters, was held in Manhatten.
or,
The fancy dress party, at which the men all turned up as gangsters, was held in Manhatten.
and,
'on which' is a more precise alternative to 'when'.
e.g. The day when I am forced to give up riding will be a sad day for me.
or,
The day on which I am forced to give up riding will be a sad day for me.

I guess that clarifies a lot
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Re: Noun modifier with "which" [#permalink]

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04 Jul 2009, 01:48
Thanks Aknine, it really helps!!
Re: Noun modifier with "which"   [#permalink] 04 Jul 2009, 01:48
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