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*Asterisk = examples of errors or poor constructions*.

Student Learning: Grammar

Clauses: Relative Clauses

  1. 1.1 Relating information to something in particular:

    Relative clauses are another important type, and they also contain a subject and verb (and often an object). They are preceded by a different range of dependent marker words, called relative pronouns and relative adverbs, which then make the clause dependent. These words are who, whom, whose, which, that (relative pronouns), and where, when, why (relative adverbs).

...which   I   can see clearly.

...who continued to play the drums loudly.

...where   I   had been standing just moments earlier.

A relative clause does not express a complete thought (it leaves us waiting for more information) and so is dependent . How they are incorporated into a sentence is achieved by the use of punctuation, and the form of punctuation will depend on whether they contain essential information or non-essential information (check out the use of commas in the Run-on sentences lesson).

  1. 1.2 Non-essential relative clauses:

    Non-essential relative clauses are signalled by placing a comma both before and after the clause. They are non-essential because if you removed them you would still retain the primary meaning of the sentence.

Sam, who continued to play the drums loudly, eventually annoyed his flatmates.

I have made many mistakes in my life, which I can see clearly now, but I wouldn't change a thing.

  1. 1.3 Essential relative clauses:

    An essential relative clause provides essential information to help the reader identify specifically the person or item being spoken about. You know the information is essential because there are no commas separating the relative clause from its person (or thing) in the sentence.

The tree fell at the spot where I had been standing moments earlier.