Translation of attributive clause
Contributive clause includes Restrictive
Attributive Clause (RA) and Non-Restrictive
Attributive Clause (NRA). RA clauses have a
close relation to the words they modify (or
their antecedent先行词), while the relation
between NRA clause and its antecedent is not
that close. Accordingly, we can translate
attributive clauses in three ways：
1. Since restrictive attributive clause is to modify a
noun, it is usually put before its antecedent. But
the clause has to be short enough so as not to break
the main sentence:
I want to buy a house which is inexpensive yet
But if the attributive clause may cause ambiguity or
logic mistake, it should be put after its antecedent,
usually as an individual sentence：
They killed four men and injured the fifth who later
died of his wounds.
2. In translation of non-restrictive attributive
clause, we usually split it from the main
sentence and put it into an independent
sentence. This is because:
1) Non-restrictive attributive sentences are usually
too long to be put in one single sentence:
World War II was more complex than World War
I, which was a collision among the imperialist
powers over the spoils of markets, recourses and
2) Non-restrictive attributive clause is usually
descriptive or explanative rather than restrictive. So if
you use them to restrict a noun, sometimes ambiguity
His father, who is in Hongkong, will return to
Taipei next week.
But please remember: There’s no rule but has no
exception. Some non-restrictive attributive clauses
are also restrictive in meaning. Look at the following
American families, which host foreign students, are
not paid, though they are allowed a small income tax
deduction. (Para. 5, L.28)
3. Sometimes an
doesn’t serve as
attributive at all.
Instead, it is to
explain the reason,
condition, result and
Therefore, we can
translate them as
They tried to stamp out the revolt, which spread all
the more furiously throughout the country.
In a dispute between two states with which one is
friendly, try not to get involved.
The trend towards globalization began in the early
1970s when the system of fixed exchange rates, set
up after World War II, was dismantled.
Copper, which offers very little resistance, is used
so widely for carrying electricity.
A few Rules to Go By
i. Split the modifiers or clauses into several
shorter sentences so as to make the Chinese
version more coherent.
1. The tobacco industry, coupled with Hollywood
movies in which both male and female heroes
smoked like chimneys, completely won over
people like my father, who were hopelessly
O Attribute Attributive Clause
hooked by cigarettes.
2. Studies show that doctors sincerely believe that
S P Object Clause Object Clause
the seriously ill do not want to know the truth
about their condition, and that informing them
risks destroying their hope, so that they may
recover more slowly, or deteriorate faster,
perhaps even commit suicide.
ii. Split the long sentence into shorter
ones according to the order in the
English original, especially when the
the order is in accordance with one in
the Chinese version.
1. I pick them up, take them into the
S P O P O
kitchen, where the light is better, and study
them—they’re filtered, for which I am
2. In these poor countries, as in American
inner cities and on reservations, money that
should be spent for food goes instead to the
tobacco companies; over time, people
O Adverbial S
starve themselves of both food and air,
P O O
effectively weakening and hooking their
children, eventually killing themselves.
iii. Split the long sentence in Chinese
according to the native range of
1. I realize now that as a child I sat by,
S P Object Clause Adverbial S P
through the years, and literally watched
my father kill himself : surely one such
victory in my family, for the prosperous
S Adverbial Adverbial
leaders who own the tobacco companies,
2. And yet this is only a part, and probably
S P O
a relatively minor part, of the more serious
Attribute O Attribute
and vastly greater problem of the maintenance
Attribute O Attribute
of the genetic health of the human species.
1. He poured into his writing all the pain of
his life and the conviction it had brought to
him that the world could be made a better
place to live in if the people became the
masters of their fate.
2. And he knew how ashamed he would
have been if she had known his mother
and the kind of place in which he was
born, and the kind of people among
whom he was born.
3. The increasing scale and scope of the
experiments needed to test new hypotheses
and develop new techniques and industrial
processes led to the setting up of research
groups and teams using highly-complicated
equipment in elaborately-designed
4. In reality, the lines of division between
sciences are becoming blurred, and science is
again approaching the “unity” that it had
two centuries ago although the accumulated
knowledge is enormously greater now, and
no one person can hope to comprehend more
than a fraction of it.
5. The problem of possible genetic damage to
human populations from radiation exposures,
including those resulting from the fallout
from testing of atomic weapons, has quite
properly claimed much popular attention in
1. My dormitory is a large, spacious and comfortable room with
2. Around the desk are four chairs for us to sit on during out study.
3. Between the two beds on the ease side of the room is a large
wardrobe for hanging clothes and storing bedding.
4. Opposite to it is a large bookcase with neatly arranged book.
5. Below the window is a large desk on which there is a clock, a
telephone and a computer.
6. As you walk into the room, you are faced with a large window on the
southern side of the room.
7. The four bed are located in the four corners of the room.
My dormitory is a large, spacious and comfortable
room with four beds. As you walk into the room,
you are faced with a large window on the
southern side of the room. Below the window is a
large desk on which there is a clock, a telephone
and a computer. Around the desk are four chairs
for us to sit on during out study. The four bed are
located in the four corners of the room. Between
the two beds on the ease side of the room is a
large wardrobe for hanging clothes and storing
bedding. Opposite to it is a large bookcase with
neatly arranged book.
Some attributive clauses can either put before or
after its antecedent, which makes no difference:
On the European continent there is one subject which
should be avoided — the weather.