Relative or Adjective Clause Definition, Examples & Exercises

By | April 15, 2019

Clauses and phrases is a unique chapter to read to learn English Grammar which is read under chapter clauses in English grammar. Here we are providing you with clauses definition, clauses meaning, and all types of clauses and some clauses examples with clauses exercises. This includes main clause examples with clauses and phrases exercises and worksheet. So don’t think what is clause and phrase, simply dive into clauses grammar and have the fun of learning-

CLAUSES

What is a Clause?

A clause is a group of words that includes a subject and a verb. It may be a sentence or the part of a sentence.

There are three kinds of clauses:

  • Noun clause
  • Adverbial/ Adverb clause                        
  • Relative/ Adjective

Relative Clauses:

The relative clause does the function of an adjective in a sentence. That is why it is also called an adjective clause. We put a relative clause immediately after the noun which refers to the person, thing, or group we are talking about.

  • The boy who came into the house was my friend.
  • The house which our neighbour bought is made of stone.

A relative clause is essential to the clear understanding of the noun it defines or qualifies. For example,

  • ‘Who came into the house’ is a relative clause without which it will not be clear to which ‘boy’ we are referring.                       

Defining and Non-defining Relative Clauses:

There are two kinds of relative clauses—defining and non-defining relative clauses.

Defining relative clauses limit the noun or pronoun to which they refer to a particular type or examples. They answer the questions which? what? whose? In the two example sentences above the relative clauses restrict ‘the boy’ and ‘the house’ to a particular ‘boy’ or a particular ‘house’.

Non-defining clauses simply give us additional information about the nouns, pronouns and clauses to which they refer. For example:

  • Anwar, who returned yesterday, will come to meet us.

There are some general rules which should be noted about relative clauses and relative pronouns:

(i)A non-defining clause is separated by commas (see the above sentence).

(ii) A defining clause is not separated by commas.

(iii) In a non-defining clause, the relative pronoun cannot be omitted.

  • Satish, who/whom you met yesterday, is a friend of mine.
  • Here the relative pronoun ‘who/whom’ cannot be omitted.

(iv) In a defining clause, we can omit the relative pronoun except when it is the subject of a verb:

  • The woman you met yesterday is my mother.

In this sentence, the relative pronoun is omitted. But we cannot omit it in the following sentence:

  • The boy who gave you this book is my friend.

This is because here the relative pronoun ‘who’ is the subject of the verb ‘gave’.

 (v) In a non-defining clause the preposition governing the relative is rarely placed at the end of the clause:

  • This is Mohan, about whom I was talking.

(vi) In a defining clause the preposition governing the relative is generally placed at the end of the clause:

  • This is the boy I was talking about.

(vii) The relative pronouns ‘which’, ‘who’, ‘whose’, ‘whom’ are found in both defining and non-defining clauses. But the pronoun ‘that’ is only found in defining clauses.

(viii) The relative pronouns differ according to whether they refer to persons or things and according to their case:

Relative Pronoun  For Persons For Things
Nominative Case Who, that Which, that
Objective Case Whom, who, that Which, that
Possessive Case

 

Whose Whose, of which

 

(ix) Relative clauses are introduced by relative adverbs ‘where’, ‘when’, `why’.

  • This is the house where we lived.
  • This is the time when the winter season sets in.
  • This is the reason why I left this place.

Use of Pronouns for Persons:

(i) In the nominative case, we use ‘who’ or `that’. ‘That’ is used after superlatives and after all, nobody, no one, somebody, someone, anybody, etc. when we can use either who’ or ‘that:

  • This is the best that I could have done in that situation.
  • The girl who cheated you is called Romola.
  • The policeman who arrested the thief has white hair.
  • All who/ that listened to his speech praised him.

(ii) In the objective case, we use ‘whom’, ‘who’, ‘that’. ‘Who is considered more formal than ‘who’. However, in spoken English, we use ‘who’ or ‘that’. There is a tendency to omit the objective relative pronoun altogether:

The boy whom/who I met is called Ramesh.

Or

The boy that I met is called Ramesh.

Or

The boy I met is called Ramesh.

(iii) We use ‘whom’ or ‘that’ with a preposition.

Generally, the preposition is placed before the relative pronoun:

The boy to whom I was speaking is my neighbour. In informal speech, the preposition is usually moved to the end of the clause and then ‘whom’ is often replaced by ‘that’ or it is omitted:

  • The man to whom I gave it was a foreigner.
  • The man who/whom I gave it to was a foreigner.
  • The man that I gave it to was a foreigner.

 (iv) In the possessive case, we use the relative pronoun ‘whose’:

Boys whose result has not been declared can meet the principal.

Use of Pronouns for Things:

(i) In the nominative case, the relative pronouns ‘which’ and ‘that’ are used. This is considered more formal:

  • This is the pen which/that cost me £5.
  • This is the house which/that has been sold.

(ii) In the objective case, we use ‘which’ or ‘that’ or omit the relative pronoun:

  • The pen which/that I bought yesterday was beautiful.
  • The pen I bought yesterday was beautiful.

We generally use ‘that’ after all, much, little, everything, none, no and compounds of no or after superlatives or we omit the relative pronoun altogether.

  • All the mangoes that fall are eaten by children.
  • This is the best place (that) I have ever seen.

(iii) When we use the objective case with a preposition, we place the preposition before `which’. But it is more usual to move it to the end of the clause, using ‘which’ or ‘that’ or we omit the relative pronoun altogether:

  • The chair on which I was sitting was made of teak wood.
  • The chair which/that I was sitting on was made of teak wood.
  • The chair I was sitting on was made of teak wood.

(iv) In the possessive case, we use the relative pronoun ‘whose’:

  • The house whose walls are made of mud bricks will not be durable.

Relative Pronouns used in Non-defining Clauses:

Form:

Case For Persons For Things
Nominative Who Which
Objective Whom, who Which
Possessive Whose Of which, whose

 

 Use for Persons:

1. In the nominative case, only ‘who’ is used:

  • My father, who is a businessman, has an expensive car.
  • Nitin, who is my friend, has gone to Dehradun.

2. In the objective case, we use ‘whom ‘ and ‘who’. ‘Who’ is sometimes used in conversation:

  • My manager, whom I dislike, is an ill-tempered man.
  • He introduced me to her girlfriend, whom I had known before.

3. Whom’ is used with a preposition in the objective case. We can also use ‘who’ if we move the preposition to the end of the clause:

  • Sumitra, to whom I gave a present, is my sister.
  • Sumitra, who I gave a present to, is my sister.

4. We use ‘whose’ in the possessive case:

  • Shakespeare, whose plays are world-famous, was a British dramatist.

Use for Things:

(i) We use ‘which’ in the nominative case:

  • His car, which is so old, broke down on the way.
  • His office, which is near our house, is painted green.

(ii) In the objective also, we use ‘which’:

  • “The Merchant of Venice”, which you read yesterday, was written by William Shakespeare.
  • The tree near my house, which I wanted to cut down, was uprooted in a storm.

(iii)The relative pronoun ‘which’ is also used with a preposition:

  • My house, for which I paid rupees fifty lacs, is beautiful.
  • My house, which I paid rupees fifty lacs for, is beautiful.

(iv)In the possessive case, ‘whose’ or ‘of which’ are used:

  • My house, whose walls are made of stone, faces East.
  • My chair, of which one leg is broken, is made of teak wood.
  • ‘This’ can refer to a whole sentence:
  • I bought this compass, which helped me a lot.
  • Loud music was played near our house, which kept us awake throughout the night.

Relative Adverbs:

The relative adverbs ‘when’, ‘ where’, ‘ why’ are used to replace a preposition and the relative pronoun ‘which’.

  • ‘When’ is used for time. It replaces ‘in/on which’.
  • ‘Where’ is used for the place. It replaces in/ at which‘.
  • ‘Why’ is used for a reason. It replaces ‘for which’.
  • That was the year in which this city was flooded.
  • That was the year when this city was flooded.
  • This is the house in which he lived.
  • This is the house where he lived.
  • This is the reason for which he was fined.
  • This is the reason why he was fined.

Exercises:-

Clauses and Phrases Solved Exercises No.- 1 & 2
Clauses and Phrases Solved Exercises No.- 3 & 4
Clauses and Phrases Solved Exercises No.- 5

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