The Relative ClauseRecognize a relative clause when you see one. A relative clause—also called an adjective or adjectival clause—will meet three requirements. • First, it will contain a subject and verb. • Next, it will begin with a relative pronoun [who, whom, whose, that, or which] or a relative adverb [when, where, or why]. • Finally, it will function as an adjective, answering the questions What kind? How many? or Which one? The relative clause will follow one of these two patterns: relative pronoun or adverb + subject + verb relative pronoun as subject + verb Here are some examples: Which Francine did not accept Which = relative pronoun; Francine = subject; did accept = verb [not, an adverb, is not officially part of the verb]. Where George found Amazing Spider-Man #96 in fair condition Where = relative adverb; George = subject; found = verb. That dangled from the one clean bathroom towel That = relative pronoun functioning as subject; dangled = verb. Who continued to play video games until his eyes were blurry with fatigue Who = relative pronoun functioning as subject; played = verb. Avoid creating a sentence fragment. A relative clause does not express a complete thought, so it cannot stand alone as a sentence. To avoid writing a fragment, you must connect each relative clause to a main clause. Read the examples below. Notice that the relative clause follows the word that it describes. To calm his angry girlfriend, Joey offered an apology which Francine did not accept. We tried our luck at the same flea market where George found Amazing Spider-Man #96 in fair condition. Michelle screamed when she saw the spider that dangled from the one clean bathroom towel. Brian said goodnight to his roommate Justin, who continued to play video games until his eyes were blurry with fatigue. Punctuate a relative clause correctly. Punctuating relative clauses can be tricky. For each sentence, you will have to decide if the relative clause is essential or nonessential and then use commas accordingly. Essential clauses do not require commas. A relative clause is essential when you need the information it provides. Look at this example: The children who skateboard in the street are especially noisy in the early evening. Children is nonspecific. To know which ones we are talking about, we must have the information in the relative clause. Thus, the relative clause is essential and requires no commas. If, however, we eliminate children and choose more specific nouns instead, the relative clause becomes nonessential and does require commas to separate it from the rest of the sentence. Read this revision:
Relative PronounA relative pronoun is a pronoun that marks a relative clause within a larger sentence. It is called a relative pronoun because it relates the relative (and hence subordinate) clause to the noun that it modifies. In English, the relative pronouns are: who, whom, whose, whoever, whosesoever, which, and, in some treatments, that. In addition, English has various fused relative pronouns, which combine in one word the antecedent and the relative pronoun: what, whatever, whatsoever, whoever, whosoever, whomever, whomsoever, whichever, and whichsoever, A relative pronoun links two clauses into a single complex clause. It is similar in function to a subordinating conjunction. Unlike a conjunction, however, a relative pronoun stands in place of a noun. Compare: (1) This is a house. Jack built this house. (2) This is the house that Jack built. Sentence (2) consists of two clauses, a main clause (This is the house) and a relative clause (that Jack built). The word that is a relative pronoun in some analyses. Within the relative clause, the relative pronoun stands for the noun phrase it references in the main clause (its antecedent), and is one of the arguments of the verb in the relative clause. In the example, the argument is the house, the direct object of built. Other arguments can be relativised using relative pronouns: Subject: Hunter is the boy who kissed Jessica. Indirect object: Hunter is the boy to whom Jessica gave a gift./Hunter is the boy who Jessica gave a gift to. Adpositional complement: Jack built the house in which I now live. (similarly with prepositions and prepositional phrases in general, for example These are the walls in between which Jack ran.) Possessor: Jack is the boy whose friend built my house. In some languages, such as German and Latin, which have gender, number, and noun declensions, the relative pronoun agrees with its antecedent in gender and number, while its case indicates its relationship with the verb in the relative clause. In some other languages, the relative pronoun is an invariable word. The words used as relative pronouns are often words which originally had other functions: for example, the English which is also an interrogative word. This suggests that relative pronouns might be a fairly late development in many languages. Some languages, such as Welsh, do not have relative pronouns. In English and German, different pronouns are sometimes used if the antecedent is a human being, as opposed to a non-human or an inanimate object (as in who/that). (5) This is a bank. This bank accepted my identification. (6) She is a bank teller. She helped us open an account. With the relative pronouns, sentences (5) and (6) would read like this: (7) This is the bank that accepted my identification. (8) She is the bank teller who helped us open an account. In sentences (7) and (8), the words that and who are the relative pronouns. The word that is used because the bank is a thing; the word who is used because "she" is a person. In some languages with relative clauses, such as Mandarin Chinese, there are no relative pronouns. In English, the relative pronoun may be optionally omitted, particularly in speech, from a restrictive relative clause — that is, one which contributes to establishing the identity of the antecedent — if the relative pronoun would serve as the object of the verb or of a stranded preposition in the relative clause (as in This is the car I bought = This is the car that I bought or This is the car you heard of = This is the car of which you heard).