Grammar Lessons: Relative Clauses

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Relative Clauses


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.

Relative Pronouns

whopeople and sometimes pet animals
Whichanimals and things
Thatpeople, animals and things; informal
WhosePossesive meaning for people and animals 
Whompeople in formal styles or in writing

Relative Clauses Examples

  • 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!

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

  1. They’re the people who want to buy our house.
  2. Here are some cells which have been affected.
  3. They should give the money to somebody who they think needs the treatment most.
  4. The woman who visited me in the hospital was very kind.
  5. The umbrella that I bought last week is already broken.
  6. The man who stole my backpack has been arrested.

Non-Defining Relative Clauses

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. 


  1. My mother, who is 86, lives in Paris.
  2. Clare, who I work with, is doing the London marathon this year
  3. Alice, who works in  London , will be starting a teaching course in the autumn

Quizzes and Worksheets

  1. Relative Clauses Worksheet
  2. Test on Relative Clauses
  3. Relative pronouns – who, which, whose – Exercise