Relative Clauses - Part 1
Relative Clauses : Grammar and Spelling Tips
There are two types of relative clauses using relative pronouns.
Non-Restrictive Clauses (Non-Defining Clauses)
The President of the United States, who is visiting Moscow, claimed that relations between the two countries were at their best for twenty years.
NB - you cannot use that here (after a comma).
The intermission,which lasts for fifteen minutes, comes halfway through the film.
Notes about Non-Restrictive Clauses (Non-Defining Clauses)
In this type of relative clause, the information is not essential; it could be deleted without making the sentence ungrammatical and it would still be clear who or what we are talking about.Restrictive Clauses (Defining Clauses)
The man that stole my car was fined. (this is used in American and British English)
The man who stole my car was fined. (this is used in British English)
The company which made it has gone bankrupt.
The company that made it has gone bankrupt.
Notes about Restrictive Clauses (Defining Clauses)
In this type of relative clause, the information is essential; if it is deleted,then the sentence will no longer make sense as we will not understand who or what is being talked about.
A non-defining relative clause gives extra information about a noun or noun phrase and has commas at both ends:
My sister, who lives in France, is coming to stay with me next week. ('who lives in France' is not essential, which means that I only have one sister and she does not need to be defined by the relative clause)
'Who' and 'whose' are used for people. 'Which' and 'whose' are used for things. 'That' cannot be used in a non-defining relative clause.
A defining relative clause gives essential information about the noun or noun phrase it modifies, without which the sentence wouldn't make sense as the listener or reader would not be able to identify the noun in the sentence:
The hotel that we stayed in wasn't bad. ('that we stayed in' tells the listener which hotel we are talking about; it defines the hotel)
'Who', 'whose' and 'that' can be used for people. 'Which' 'whose' and 'that' can be used for things.