Chig-Chung Guey


The purpose of this present paper is to present a cognitive framework, coined as “Conservation Law,” which may shed new light on insightful understanding of the structures of sentences involving relative pronouns. Given that there are roughly four types of relative pronouns; namely, general, compound, relative adverbial, and quasi-relative, a conservation law in both structures and semantics exists. We start by combining two simple sentences into a resulting sentence with relative pronouns, and, through careful observation and calculation, we found the equivalence in word counts between original and resulting sentences. The conservation law mainly refers to the structure equivalence on either words or meanings among these four types of relative pronouns, or relative clauses. With the help of conservation law, the understanding of relative clauses can be much easier, because they are, among others, the most difficult and complex structures in English syntax, especially for EFL learners. Hopefully, this cognitive framework may be of great contribution to EFL English instruction. 


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relative clauses, relative pronouns, conservation law, antecedent


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