Explanation

A relative clause is a special type of subordinate clause that modifies a noun. It often does this by using a relative pronoun such as who or that to refer back to that noun, though the relative pronoun that is often omitted.

A relative clause may also be attached to a clause. In that case, the pronoun refers back to the whole clause, rather than referring back to a noun.

In the examples, the relative clauses are in red, and both the pronouns and the words they refer back to are in bold.

  • That’s the boy who lives near school. [who refers back to boy]
  • The prize that I won was a book. [that refers back to prize]
  • The prize I won was a book. [the pronoun that is omitted]
  • Tom broke the game, which annoyed Ali. [which refers back to the whole clause]

Relative clauses in composition

In this activity, students will look at examples of sentences and turn them into one sentence that incorporates a relative clause with a relative pronoun. You can review relative clauses and relative pronouns using the Englicious glossary and 'Professional development' pages, found in the 'Content type' menu to the left.

Relative clauses in composition: Activity

  • This is a dance group. This dance group does not exclude people.
  • This is a dance group which does not exclude people

  • The same status was granted to Montenegro. Montenegro’s inhabitants were encouraged to identify with the territory’s historic identity.
  • The same status was granted to Montenegro, whose inhabitants were encouraged to identify with the territory’s historic identity.

Restrictive and non-restrictive relative clauses

In this lesson, we look at the difference between two kinds of relative clause. A relative clause is a special kind of subordinate clause, and like other subordinate clauses it is introduced by a subordinating conjunction. More specifically, the introduction of a relative clause can be carried out by a relative pronoun.

The two types of relative clauses we will be looking at are:

Restrictive and non-restrictive relative clauses: Activity 1

In what situation would somebody use the clause the car which is yellow? For example: the car which is yellow is mine, the car which is blue is yours and the car which is red is John’s. If I say the car which is yellow, am I giving you more information about a particular car we were already talking about by telling you its colour – or am I helping you to identify the car by telling you that it is the yellow one rather than the red one or the blue one?

Restrictive and non-restrictive relative clauses: Activity 3

Non-restrictive relative clauses are often – although not always – surrounded by commas, which separate the additional information that the relative clause contains. In the following examples, see if you can put the commas in the right place to separate out the restrictive relative.

Y6 GPaS Test: Identify the relative clause

Identify the relative clause in each of the following examples. Click on the first and last word of the relative clause to select or deselect it.

Clauses: Relative clauses

Look at the highlighted clauses in these examples. What do they add to the meaning of the sentences?

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