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Defining Relative Clauses

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Defining relative clauses give information about people, things, possessions, places and times. We use relative pronouns with defining relative clauses.

People – who, that
He's a person who is always punctual.
An anchor man is a person that reads the news.

Things – that, which
A calculator is a device that is hardly used anymore.
The mobile is a piece of technology which we can't do without.

In cases where who, which and that are the subjects of the relative clause they can't be left out.

We can leave out who, which and that if they are the object of the relative clause.
The mobile phone is a piece of technology (which, that) we can't do without.
He's someone ( who, that) you can rely on in a crisis.

Possessions (whose)
Whose car keys are these?
I would like to know whose car is blocking my garage.

Places (where, which/that + preposition)
That's the house where I was born.
That's the house which/that I grew up in.
If there is a preposition at the the end of the sentence the relative pronoun can be left out.
That's the house I grew up in.

Times (when)
Tomorrow is when my sister arrives from Italy.
6 o'clock is a time when traffic is heaviest.

Lesson by EC Malta teacher Tristan, Learn English in Malta

Choose the correct relative pronoun for the following:

  • 1) John is a person ___ hates modern technology.



  • 2) The 60s were a time ___ society went through extreme social change.



  • 3) That typewriter is exactly like the one ___ I used to use when I started working.



  • 4) I'd love to go to a restaurant ___ is by the sea.



  • 5) That's Lara. Her sister is the one ___ husband was arrested.



  • 6) ___ the person who left a half eaten burger in the fridge?