As we all known, attributive clause in medical English is very common. Sometimes, there is only one sentence including several attributive clause and other components in a long paragraph text (we can find out some examples in our former blogs: Some Skills of Medical Records Translation from Chinese to English).

We also ever discussed some skills in medical English translation (please refer to my blogs: Some Skills in Medical English Translation (I) & Some Skills in Medical English Translation (II)). Now, let’s discuss the translation of attributive clause in medical English together.

Attributive clause is extensively used in medical English, which is generally led by relative pronouns such as that, which, who, as, but or by relative adverbs such as when, where, how, why. This kind of clause is taken to modify pronoun or noun, sometimes a part of the main sentence or the whole main sentence. It includes restrictive attributive clause and non-restrictive clause. Now, let’s discuss restrictive attributive clause first.

The relationship between restrictive attributive clause and the modified antecedent is seriously close, which has restrictive and clear function. And there is no comma between them. I will introduce several translation methods as followings:

  1. If the clause is short and the restriction relationship is strong, the clause can be translated to be modifier of antecedent, that’s to say, translated to “…的”。

For example 1: We should be familiar with those signs and symptoms which may be indicative of stroke. (which clause modifies those signs)


Suitable translation: 我们应该熟悉那些提示卒中的症状。

For example 2: Many complications which high blood pressure causes are serious.

Translation: 高血压引起的许多并发症是严重的。

  1. Translated into parallel branch clauses. If the attributive clause is long, and the modified relationship is not strong, it is translated to be parallel branch clauses according to Chinese expression habit.

For example: Several different clinical classifications exist which vary only in details.

Translation: 有集中不同的临床分类方法,这些方法只是细节上有所不同。

Read Also: Some Skills in Medical Translation (1)

  1. Translated into adverbial clause

Sometimes, attributive clause plays an adverbial modifier role in the meaning, which expresses the verb’s reason, result, goal, condition etc. We can deal with it to be adverbial modifier.

For example: The patient who had been given the medicine soon fell asleep last time.

Translation: 患者上次服药后很快就入睡了。

Here, who clause refers to time, so we can deal with it as a time adverbial.

All in all, when we come across attributive clause, we should deal with it according to its meanings and the relationship with the modified antecedent.

Next time, we will discuss the non-restrictive attributive clause. Please continue to pay attention to our blog. Certainly welcome to send us email for further communication or cooperation.

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