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According to the book I am reading now, a relative clause ending with noun must be followed by の. But sometimes I also find a relative clause ending with noun that is followed by である.

Consider the following examples:

A: 両親が日本人学生はクラスの20%をしめている。

B: 両親が日本人である学生はクラスの20%をしめている。

Literally it means

The students whose parents are Japanese constitute 20% of the students in the class.

Questions

  • When do we have to use の and である for a relative clause ending with a noun?

  • Is there any difference in nuance?

3

When do we have to use の and である for a relative clause ending with a noun?

The general tendency, if not the absolute rule, is that it would sound less formal and more conversational if you used 「の」.

(Grammatically speaking, this 「の」 is appositional.)

「である」 would make the sentence sound more formal and/or academic. In any kind of formal speech or writing, you would use 「である」 in that example sentence.

Is there any difference in nuance?

The only difference in nuance is the level of formality as discussed above.

  • @virmaior Thanks for pointing that out. I have edited the last part of my answer. – l'électeur Jul 18 '16 at 14:43

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