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I was reading an article in the digital edition of El País when I came across this section

¿Por qué los científicos, entre los que me incluyo, confiamos en poder predecir temperaturas superiores a la media con meses de antelación, y en qué difieren las predicciones climáticas de la previsión del tiempo?

I can understand what the phrase entre los que me incluyo means that is not the problem but what is the role of que there? Is it in fact necessary? Is it an error? It may be relevant that the article is translated from English.

Just for further information I think the phrase in English would be something like: "amongst whom I include myself", or "a grouping which includes me", or just "including me". The article itself can be found in full here

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  • I am curious. If you think "que" is not necessary in the sentence, what would be an alternative without "que"?
    – Charlie
    Jan 25 '17 at 16:21
  • @CarlosAlejo I think I would just have left it out. From your curiosity I can guess that would have been an error.
    – mdewey
    Jan 25 '17 at 16:41
  • Indeed, if you say "entre los me incluyo" everybody knows there is a "que" missing. :-) You could change the sentence to "yo incluido" or "entre quienes me incluyo" if you want to avoid "que", but the sentence is fine as is.
    – Charlie
    Jan 25 '17 at 16:43
  • in this case, que works somehow like whom. Strictly speaking, Introduce una oración relativa con antecedente expreso and the article is needed after a preposition. Source
    – Rafael
    Jan 25 '17 at 16:48
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You can write the sentece as

entre quienes me incluyo

or

entre los que me incluyo

In the first case, "quienes" would be a pronombre relativo:

quien

  1. pron. relat. m. y f. El que, el cual o que. U. con antecedente referido a personas. Este es el escritor de quien te hablé. U. sin preposición solo encabeza oraciones explicativas. El escritor invitado, quien trató ampliamente esa cuestión, es un especialista en la materia.

You can see that, in this case, "quien" is the same as "el que", so "quienes" would be the same as "los que", hence the second version. In this case, "que" is another pronombre relativo, and just introduces a relative clause.

que

  1. pron. relat. m., f. y n. Introduce una oración relativa sin antecedente expreso. U. precedido del artículo determinado. Visitamos las que recomendaban en la guía. Se fijaron en el que estaba en el escaparate. Eso es lo que no entiendo.

Sometimes you can write similar examples without "que":

De entre los mencionados, el mejor sería sin duda...

Entre los nuevos reclutas hay uno que me suena de algo.

You can change those examples to similar examples with relative clauses:

De entre los que acabo de mencionar, el mejor sería sin duda...

Entre los que acaban de llegar hay uno que me suena de algo.

Maybe "que me incluyo" sounds funny as a relative clause, if you think of it.

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"entre los que me incluyo" is a very usual clause in Spanish, mdewey. Apart from "entre quienes me incluyo," as Alejo suggested, it is also equivalent to "entre los cuales me incluyo."

What needs to be understood here is that, for the article to be able to precede the relative pronoun (the invariable "que" or the variable "cual"/"cuales"), the clause needs to be non-defining (between commas, as is the case with the sentence at issue) or a nominal relative, that is, a clause which can be interpreted as containing a noun accompanied by a relative clause. Compare these sentences:

  • Los científicos que trabajan allí saben predecir la temperatura ("los que" and "los cuales" cannot be used instead of "que" here, while "quienes" would sound odd to most Spanish speakers, if not altogether wrong) (The scientists who/that work there know how to predict the temperature). This is a DEFINING clause that helps define "los científicos".

  • Los científicos de ese laboratorio, que/quienes/los cuales (NOT los que) llevan muchos años trabajando allí, saben predecir la temperatura. (The scientists in that laboratory, who have been working there for many years, know how to predict the temperature). This is a NON-DEFINING clause that adds extra, unnecessary information.

After a preposition, as in the opening sentence, we need the forms "el que", "el cual" and "quien", including their variants in the feminine and plural, while "el que" and "quien" and its variants can introduce nominal relative clauses:

  • Los científicos en los que / en los cuales / en quienes más confío son aquéllos que saben predecir la temperatura. (The scientists in whom I trust the most -- better: The scientists I trust the most -- are those who can predict the temperature). Notice that "en" is a preposition. When the noun is not personal, we can use preposition + "que": La teoría en que baso mi afirmación tiene base científica (The theory on which I base my assertion has a scientific basis)
  • Los científicos son los que / quienes más saben de meteorología. (Scientists are (the ones/those) who are most knowledgeable about meteorology). In this case, the clause is called "nominal relative" because it can be understood as formed by a noun and a relative clause: ...son las personas que más saben de meteorología.

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