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|
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.
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.
- 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