Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Relative Clauses

Grammar: Relative clauses
Sections A & B in the book
Page 82 Section 5 in the workbook
Page 80 in the workbook, sections 2 & 3.

Relative clauses
Giving more information about something without using two sentences, or putting two sentences together.

  • It will contain a subject and a verb
  • It will begin with a relative pronoun.
  • It will act as an adjective -> answering questions like "what kind" or "how many" or "which one"

It will follow one of these two patterns:

Relative pronoun or adverb + subject + verb or
Relative pronoun as subject + verb

Relative pronouns (from English Grammar online)
relative pronounuseexample
whosubject or object pronoun for peopleI told you about the woman who lives next door.
whichsubject or object pronoun for animals and thingsDo you see the cat which is lying on the roof?
whichreferring to a whole sentenceHe couldn’t read which surprised me.
whosepossession for people animals and thingsDo you know the boy whose mother is a nurse?
whomobject pronoun for people, especially in non-defining relative clauses (in defining relative clauses we colloquially prefer who)I was invited by the professor whom I met at the conference.
thatsubject or object pronoun for people, animals and things in defining relative clauses (who or which are also possible)I don’t like the table that stands in the kitchen.

Relative adverbs
Relative adverbmeaninguseexample
whenin/on whichrefers to a time expressionthe day when we met him
wherein/at whichrefers to a placethe place where we met him
whyfor whichrefers to a reasonthe reason why we met him

Defining relative clauses that are used to identify people
The information in the clause is necessary, it tells which person is being described or talked about. 
If you remove defining relative clauses, the sentence has a different meaning or no meaning at all.
Defining relative clauses are NOT put in commas.


  • Look out! There’s the dog that bit my brother.
  • The film that we saw last week was awful.
  • This is the skirt I bought in the sales.

Non defining relative clauses
These give information that is not important information for the sentence. If these clauses are removed then the sentence will not change it's meaning.
Non defining relative clauses are put in commas


  • The film, which stars Tom Carter, is released on Friday.
  • My eldest son, whose work takes him all over the world, is in Hong Kong at the moment.
  • The car, which can reach speeds of over 300km/ph, costs over $500,000.

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