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The title of which, which title

Posted by GPP on August 24, 2003

In Reply to: The title of which, which title posted by Tom on August 24, 2003

: : : : : Hi!

: : : : : A book says only the first sentence is acceptable. I don't know why the second sentence is not acceptable.

: : : : : The movie The Wizard of Oz, _________ is taken from the book of the same name, has been a children's favorite for years.

: : : : : a) the title of which
: : : : : b) which title

: : : : : Thanks for your help.

: : : : : Tom

: : : : I have to admit I don't either, except that b) is a little more formal and fussier-sounding--but maybe I'm missing some fine point of grammar.

: : : Oh, I think I see--the subject of the sentence is the word "movie", not "The Wizard of Oz"; and "movie" isn't a title. That's why.

: : I believe "which title" was acceptable in English two or three hundred years ago but isn't standard today.

: : The sentence could also say (correctly) ". . . Oz, a title taken from the book of the same name," or ". . . Oz, whose title is taken from the book of the same name."

: Thank you for your answers.

: "Which" can be used as a relative determiner, but it need a preposition before that, right?

: a) He called her by the wrong name, for which mistake he apologized immediately.

: How about next sentence? I quote it from the same dictionary.

: b) I said nothing, which fact made him angry.

: Many English natives don't accept the last sentence, I guess. I am just wondering why a) sounds OK but b) sounds strange.

: Thanks again.

: Tom

: PS. I was surprised to see another Tom had posted his question right after me.

R Berg, I think Tom's question had not to do with how the sentence might better be rephrased, but, specifically, what is grammatically wrong with example b) 'which title'?

The construction "which title", or "which fact", is not frequently used in 21st C speech, but is still perfectly good English. The problem with its use in the original question posed is that it modifies the wrong word, "movie", as shown above. In the second pair of examples, while b) may sound clumsy or old-fashioned to modern ears, I believe it's grammatically correct. If you leave out the word "fact" so that it's understood rather than stated, as "I said nothing, which made him angry", it sounds less strange, and it becomes clear that this "which" does not need a preposition before it. The word "fact" here simply refers back to the "fact" that "I said nothing", the opening clause.