Grammar-QuizzesClauses ›  Relative Clauses

Relative Clauses ("Adjective Clauses")

Express descriptive or identifying information

X structure diagram
walking
We saw leaves that were multi-colored.
diagram
► What is a relative clause? ▼ Explanation of term

A relative clause 

  • expresses descriptive or identifying information about a noun or noun phrase.
  • functions as a descriptor that limits or restricts the noun with the information that it adds.  The leaves that were red and yellow fell to the ground. The leaves that were brown stayed on the tree.
  • takes form as a clause:
    • connected by a relative pronoun (that, which, who, whom or whose)We saw the person who raked the leaves.
    • placed directly after the noun it modifies. The leaves that fell on the ground formed a multi-colored carpet.
    • adjusted to the temporal, locational and pronoun references in the main clause.  He gave us a leaf that he had found earlier this morning.

Adjective clause is the traditional grammar term for an clause that functions as a modifier to a noun.  However, a clause cannot be an adjective. Modern grammar description separates function (e.g., subject, predicate, modifier) from word category (e.g., Noun, Verb, Adjective).  The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language reserves the term adjective for words belonging to the category Adjective. In other words, terms that mix function and word category have been updated:  an adjective clause is called a relative clause, a noun clause is called a subordinate (content) clause, an adverb clause is (at least for now) an adjunct prepositional phrase. The adverbs that were part of the traditional "adverb clause" (e.g., though, because, before, if (cond.) and so on) were reanalyzed as prepositions. They now belong to the category Preposition.  And the kinds of complements which could follow a preposition were widened to include not only a noun phrase and gerund but also a (content) clause and more. See Prepositional Complements.  (Huddleston 11 §3.1) (Biber 2.13)

Relative Clause

Summary of Practices

 

 

Relative Clause Diagnostic  (Adjective Clause)

smart phones

Quiz 1: beginning–intermediate

Quiz 2: intermediate–advanced

Relative Clauses

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

Intermediate ESL, Native Speakers

smart car on street 

A 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)

Intermediate ESL, Native Speakers

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

Intermediate ESL, Native Speakers

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

Intermediate–Advanced, ESL, Native Speakers

Lincoln 

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

Intermediate–Advanced, ESL, Native Speakers

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

Advanced, ESL, Native Speakers

Visitors

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.

Ending with a Preposition: examine placement options

Intermediate–Advanced ESL, Native Speakers

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. (phrasal verb)

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

Identifying or Restrictive Clauses

All of which: recognize an essential versus a non-essential clause

Intermediate–Advanced, ESL, Native Speakers

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

Intermediate–Advanced, ESL, Native Speakers

Candy  

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

Intermediate–Advanced, ESL, Native Speakers

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.)

 

Reduced Modifying Clause  (Also see Participles.)

Clause Reduction 1: shorten modifying clauses with be verb forms

Intermediate–Advanced ESL, Native Speakers

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: shorten modifying clauses with active verb forms

Intermediate–Advanced ESL, Native Speakers

Congress 

 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

Intermediate–Advanced ESL, Native Speakers

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

Intermediate–Advanced ESL, Native Speakers

alcatraz

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.

Misrelated Clauses or "Dangling Participles"

Misrelated Clause: improve the positioning of modifying clauses

Intermediate–Advanced ESL, Native Speakers

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.