Relative Clauses (modifying clauses, adjective clauses)




Relative Clause Diagnostic: identify specific points that need review

Relative Clauses

That / Which: add modifying clauses for inanimate and animate nouns

smart car on street 

The car that is very small  is economical to drive.

The car that I want to buy  is economical to drive.


Personal Relative Clause

Who(m) Clause: add modifying clauses for personal nouns (animate)

Woman on Phone 

The woman who called you is here.

The woman  (whom) you called is here.

Genitive Clauses

Whose Clause: add modifying clauses for personal genitive nouns

greek woman 

The woman  who is Greek is on the phone.

The woman  whose name is Greek is on the phone.

Of which Clause: add modifying clauses for possessive inanimate nouns


The car    the lines of which are sleek   is excellent. (formal)

The car    whose lines are sleek is excellent. (less formal)

The car    with the sleek lines is excellent.


When/Where Clause: add modifying clauses for time or place

flower child 

San Francisco,  where the "flower children" began,  is a colorful city.

The 1960s, when the "flower children" thrived, was a colorful decade.

All of which: add  modifying clauses for nouns with quantity phrases


The Walt Disney Company has several parks, all of which are run by Walt Disney Parks and Resorts.

California has a lot of visitors, most of whom come to see Disneyland.

Identifying / Restrictive Clauses

That vs. Which: recognize an essential versus a non-essential clause

Bottled Water 

The water that I drank last night contained sodium.

The Evian water, which I drank last night, contained sodium.

Some or All: recognize a restrictive vs. a nonrestrictive modifying clause


Candy that contains chocolate is dangerous to dogs. 

Candy, which is a sweet, is irresistible to children. 

Which Clause: add a modifying clause that identifies an entire clause

pressing delete key 

He deleted the picture that upset me. (The picture upset me.)

He deleted the picture, which upset me. (The action upset me.)

Misrelated Clauses or "Dangling Participles"

Misrelated Clauses: improve the positioning of modifying clauses

heart in the trash

*Being a guy, it is hard for him to understand her point of view.

Being a guy, he has a hard time understanding her point of view.

Review / Practice

Ch 13 Adj Clauses: review modifying clauses

Kiddie TV 

Commercials that you see on TV  (is / are) ____ aimed at children.


Modifying Clause Quiz: practice modifying clauses for possessives and quantifiers  

runners on cell phones 

The Bay to Breakers race, (its, whose, that)  ____ name comes from its route, is fun for all.

Reduced Modifying Clauses

Clause Reduction 1: shorten modifying clauses with be verb forms

talk show 

 The seat [that was] next to me was empty.

The woman [who is] seated behind me is eating popcorn. 

A talk show [which is] trying to improve its rating may plan a fight. 

Clause Reduction 2: reduce modifying clauses with active verb forms


 The subcommittee [which meets] next week will discuss a new bill.

 The subcommittee meeting next week will discuss a new bill.

Past Participle Clauses: reduce passive sentences to past-participial modifying clauses

Golden Gate Bridge

The Golden Gate Bridge, [which was] designed by Charles Ellis, ...

The Golden Gate Bridge, designed by Charles Ellis, ...

Present Participle Clauses: reduce active sentences to present-participle modifying clauses


The federal agency, which was locating the prison on Alcatraz,
preferred the isolated location of the island.

The federal agency, which was located in San Francisco,
preferred the isolated location of the island.

Related Pages

Wh-ever Phrases: refer to an unknown one


Whatever you say is confidential.

You can take whomever you want.

Whatever way will be fine.



Ending with a Preposition:  examine placement options

A mismatch on a date

Who did you give your number to?
To whom did you give your number?  very formal

Can you tell me what kind of person you are interested in?
Can you tell me in what kind of person you are interested?

The word that you looked up is not in my dictionary.
*The word up which you looked is not in my dictionary.