New Content - Relative Clauses II

1. Relative Adverbs

A relative adverb can be used instead of a relative pronoun plus preposition. This often makes the sentence easier to understand.

This is the shop in which I bought my bike.
→ This is the shop where I bought my bike.

relative adverb meaning use example
when in/on which refers to a time expression the day when we met him
where in/at which refers to a place the place where we met him
why for which refers to a reason the reason why we met him

2. Defining Relative Clauses

Defining relative clauses (also called identifying relative clauses or restrictive relative clauses) give detailed information defining a general term or expression. Defining relative clauses are not put in commas.

Imagine, Tom is in a room with five girls. One girl is talking to Tom and you ask somebody whether he knows this girl. Here the relative clause defines which of the five girls you mean.

Do you know the girl who is talking to Tom?

Defining relative clauses are often used in definitions.

A seaman is someone who works on a ship.

Object pronouns in defining relative clauses can be dropped. (Sentences with a relative clause without the relative pronoun are called Contact Clauses.)

The boy (who/whom) we met yesterday is very nice.

3. Non-Defining Relative Clauses

Non-defining relative clauses (also called non-identifying relative clauses or non-restrictive relative clauses) give additional information on something, but do not define it. Non-defining relative clauses are put in commas.

Imagine, Tom is in a room with only one girl. The two are talking to each other and you ask somebody whether he knows this girl. Here the relative clause is non-defining because in this situation it is obvious which girl you mean.

Do you know the girl, who is talking to Tom?

Note: In non-defining relative clauses, who/which may not be replaced with that.

Object pronouns in non-defining relative clauses must be used.

Jim, who/whom we met yesterday, is very nice.



3. Nominal Relative Clauses


NOMINAL RELATIVE CLAUSES (or independent relatives) function in some respects like noun phrases:

[What I like best] is football (Notice the equivalence to Spanish "lo que"

(cf. the sport I like best...)

The prize will go to [whoever submits the best design]
(cf. the person who submits...)

My son is teaching me [how to use email]
(cf. the way to use email)

This is [where Shakespeare was born]
(cf. the place where...)

The similarity with NPs can be further seen in the fact that certain nominal relatives exhibit number contrast:

Singular: [What we need] is a plan
Plural: [What we need] are new ideas
Notice the agreement here with is (singular) and are (plural).