We use defining relative clauses to give essential information about someone or something – information that we need in order to understand what or who is being referred to.
|who||people and sometimes pet animals|
|Which||animals and things|
|That||people, animals and things; informal|
|Whose||Possesive meaning for people and animals|
|Whom||people in formal styles or in writing|
Relative Clauses Examples
These are some examples of relative clauses.
- Do you know the girl who threw the Halloween party?
- Can I have the pencil that I bought you yesterday?
- A notebook is a computer which is small.
- want to live in a place where there are beaches nearby.
- Yesterday was a day when everything went wrong!
- It’s my brother who lives in Norway
- The weather that we had this summer was beautiful.
- Lord Thompson, who is 76, has just retired.
- This is the house which Jack built.
- Marie Curie is the woman that discovered radium.
Defining Relative Clause
A defining relative clause usually comes immediately after the noun it describes.
We usually use a relative pronoun (e.g. who, that, which, whose and whom) to introduce a defining relative clause
- They’re the people who want to buy our house.
- Here are some cells which have been affected.
- They should give the money to somebody who they think needs the treatment most.
- The woman who visited me in the hospital was very kind.
- The umbrella that I bought last week is already broken.
- The man who stole my backpack has been arrested.
- Protestors who smash windows will be arrested.
- The man who sold me the house has left the city.
Non-Defining Relative Clauses
A non-defining or non-essential clause gives us more information about the person or thing we are talking about.
If a non-defining relative clause is removed from a sentence, we lose some detail, but the overall meaning of the sentence remains the same.
These are some examples of non-defining relative clauses
- My mother, who is 86, lives in Paris.
- Clare, who I work with, is doing the London marathon this year
- Alice, who works in London , will be starting a teaching course in the autumn
- My grandfather, who is 87, goes swimming every day.
- The film, which stars Tom Carter, is released on Friday.
- Elephants that love mice are very unusual
- Mrs. Jackson, who is very intelligent, lives on the corner
- Protestors, who are mostly aged under 30, want to express an opinion.
- The theater, which is beautiful, was designed by Tom Jon.
Quizzes and Worksheets
These are some quizzes and worksheets to help you master the topic
- Relative Clauses Worksheet
- Test on Relative Clauses
- Relative pronouns – who, which, whose – Exercise
- Oxford University Press Quiz