Relative clauses, also known as adjective clauses, are essential components of English grammar that enable us to provide additional information about nouns in our sentences. These clauses, introduced by relative pronouns or relative adverbs, add depth and specificity to our communication. In this article, we will explore the concept of relative clauses, their types, and provide examples to illustrate their usage.
What Are Relative Clauses?
Relative clauses are subordinate clauses that provide additional information about nouns in the main clause. They help us identify or describe the nouns more precisely, making our sentences clearer and more informative. Further, they are often introduced by relative pronouns or relative adverbs.
Types of Relative Clauses
- Defining (Restrictive) Relative Clauses:
- These clauses provide essential information about the noun they modify, without which the sentence may not make sense or may become ambiguous.
- Relative Pronouns: who, whom, whose, which, that
- Example: The person who called me is my cousin.
- In this example, “who called me” is a defining relative clause that specifies which person we are referring to.
- Non-defining (Non-restrictive) Relative Clauses:
- These clauses offer additional, non-essential information about the noun they modify. The sentence would remain grammatically correct and meaningful even if the relative clause were removed.
- Relative Pronouns: who, whom, whose, which
- Example: My brother, who lives in New York, is an architect.
- In this case, “who lives in New York” is a non-defining relative clause providing extra information about the brother.
Relative Pronouns and Relative Adverbs
Relative pronouns and relative adverbs serve as connectors between the main clause and the relative clause:
- who (subject)
- whom (object)
- whose (possessive)
- which (for things)
- that (for things or people)
- where (referring to a place)
- when (referring to a time)
- why (referring to a reason)
Examples of Relative Clauses
- Defining Relative Clause:
- The book that I borrowed from the library is excellent.
- In this sentence, “that I borrowed from the library” is a defining relative clause specifying which book we are talking about.
- Non-defining Relative Clause:
- My sister, who just got married, is moving to a new city.
- Here, “who just got married” is a non-defining relative clause providing additional information about the sister.
Punctuation for Non-defining Relative Clauses
Non-defining relative clauses are set off by commas because they provide extra, non-essential information. In contrast, defining relative clauses are not separated by commas as they are crucial to the sentence’s meaning.
Understanding and using relative clauses effectively is crucial for enhancing your English writing and communication skills. Whether you are crafting complex sentences in academic writing or simply aiming to be a more articulate speaker, mastering relative clauses allows you to provide additional context and detail about the nouns in your sentences. By recognizing the different types of relative clauses and their respective introducers, you can elevate your language proficiency and convey your ideas with greater precision and clarity.