The following was observed in sawa's answer to "Can ごとに be replaced by それぞれ in this question?":

 ◯ 正月はそれぞれの家が門松を立てる。

 × 木村さんはそれぞれの会う人に挨拶している。

 ◯ 木村さんは会う人それぞれに挨拶している。

それぞれの会う人 is said to be an ungrammatical construction because it is modified from outside of the relative clause. What are the rules for modifying noun-phrases?

I had perceived それぞれの会う人 as a XのY construction i.e. I perceived 会う人 as a noun-equivalent. Does this imply that a relative clause construction cannot act in all ways that a noun can?

Also, are the following constructions valid?

  • [な-adjective] + [noun-phrase from relative clause construction]

  • [い-adjective] + [noun-phrase from relative clause construction]

  • 1
    I just got a sentence from a dictionary: おのおのの持てる力を出し合う. I'm think the infelicity of your sentence is more about the usage of different forms of a word. e.g. それぞれの[名詞]は~・[名詞]それぞれは~・[名詞]はそれぞれ・[名詞]はそれぞれに, [名詞]はそれぞれの[名詞]~を, etc. I found many adverbs are really tricky.
    – Yang Muye
    Commented Mar 21, 2014 at 10:00
  • For example, "Snow-white、Cinderella、木村さんはそれぞれの会う人に挨拶している" would mean "Mr.Kimura has greeted the people whom each of Snow-white and Cinderella will meet (i.e. the hobbits and the witch)".
    – user4092
    Commented May 16, 2014 at 2:16

2 Answers 2


A relative clause construction cannot act in all ways that a noun can. Adjectival modification, genitive noun phrase, and relative clause are all different things, and behave differently syntactically.

Assuming that a relative clause attaches to a noun phrase and creates a noun phrase, whose categorical status is the same, is correct.

The problem is with adjectival modification and genitive phrases. There is a need to distinguish between a noun and a noun phrase for them.

  • 1
    That answer is not really an answer... It didn't tell me anything that your question above didn't already say.
    – dotnetN00b
    Commented Jun 28, 2012 at 23:06
  • @dotnetN00b. I know, I'm still looking for information. This answer was formed by noting down some points in a comment discussion with sawa that was deleted. I didn't want to forget some key ideas that sawa said so I put it down here first in order to have a general direction of what I should be looking out for to supply a complete answer.
    – Flaw
    Commented Jun 29, 2012 at 2:45
  • Ah. I see. Carry on then :)
    – dotnetN00b
    Commented Jun 29, 2012 at 2:52
  • @Flaw how is it going? Clauses kill me when reading. Does "adjectival modification" and "genitive" carry enough meaning to distinguish between a concept like 正月 and a human actor like 木村さん.
    – medmal
    Commented Jul 20, 2012 at 7:01
  • @medmal There is no adjectival modification nor genitive relation expressed in the Xは part of the sentence. What is being compared is それぞれの+家/会う人.
    – Flaw
    Commented Jul 20, 2012 at 7:20

FWIW, I just had a look in Shogakukan's Progressive Japanese-English Dictionary entry for それぞれ. In all the sample uses where それぞれ came right after the initial は clause, the それぞれ was referring to the topic. This agrees with my own subjective experience hearing this term in use. Excerpted examples (emphasis original):

  • 少年たちはそれぞれ犬を飼っている  Each boy [Each of the boys] keeps a dog. / The boys each keep a dog.
  • 子供たちはそれぞれの席についた  Each of the children took his (own) seat.
  • 人はそれぞれの長所がある  Everyone has his own strong point.
  • トムと太郎とフィリップはそれぞれ英語,日本語,フランス語を話した  Tom, Taro, and Philip spoke English, Japanese, and French respectively.

As such, 「木村さんはそれぞれの会う人に挨拶している。」 wouldn't work because the それぞれ in the middle there refers to 木村さん, not the 会う人. This appears to be specific to how それぞれ is used, and is thus outside the scope of your question about modifying nouns.

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