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Relative Clauses

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Relative clauses are used to give extra information about something in a sentence.

There are two types of relative clauses, defining and non-defining.

Defining Relative Clauses

A defining relative clause gives information about the noun it modifies.

The boy who lives next door loves tennis.

‘who lives next door’ is a defining relative clause. It tells us which boy we are talking about. Commas are not used in defining relative clauses.

'A vet is a person who treats sick animals.'
'Did you know the girl that Simon was talking to?'
'The best book that he has ever written.

Non-defining Relative Clauses

Non-defining relative clauses add extra information to the sentence. You can remove the clause from the sentence and it keeps the same meaning. For example:

'My Brother, who lives in London, is an architect.'

'who lives in London' is the non-defining relative clause. It can be taken out and the meaning of the sentence remains the same. In non-defining relative clauses commas are used.

Wh- Words

Apart from 'that' we use the following wh-words with relative clauses. The word you use depend  on the situation.

Who - 'A person who collects stamps.'
That - 'I'm looking for someone that can speak French.' (That can be used instead of who).
Whose - 'The woman whose bag was stolen.'

Which - 'I play basketball, which is great fun.'
That - 'I wear a watch that is very cheap.'
Whose - 'A decision whose importance I did not understand.'

Where - 'The town where I was born.'

When - 'The time when I was most happy.'

Why - 'You are the reason why I am leaving.'

Now decide which missing word is needed to complete each sentence:

  • 1 - A barn is a place __ animals sleep.

  • 2 - A dentist is a person ___ checks teeth.

  • 3 - The river ___ we swam in yesterday has few fish.

  • 4 - You should stop eating ___ you feel full.

  • 5 - Chopsticks, ___ originate in china, are usually made of wood.

  • 6 - My son, ___ wife is a nurse, lives in Bristol.

  • 7 - Some children ___ stole from the shop were punished.

  • 8 - I like the the paintings ___ my sister did.

  • 9 - The snow, ___ is typical for the time of year, makes travel difficult.

  • 10 - A pool is a place ___ people go to swim.