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 Terms and Use of Adjective Clauses

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PostSubject: Terms and Use of Adjective Clauses   Wed Jan 27, 2010 7:00 pm

Terms for clauses

clause: A clause is a group of words containing a subject and a verb

independent clause: An independent clause is a complete sentence. It contains the main object and verb of a sentence. (It is also called the main clause.)

dependent clause: A dependent clause is not a complete sentence. It is connected to the independent clause.

adjective clause: An adjective clause is a dependent clause that modifies a noun. It describes, identifies, or gives further information about a noun. (An adjective clause is also called a relative clause.)

adverb clause: An adverb clause is a dependent clause that modifies an action or non-action verb. It is a dependent clause. It cannot stand alone as a sentence. It must be connected to an independent clause.

noun clause: A noun is used as a subject or an object. A noun clause is used as a subject or an object. In other words, a noun clause is used in the same ways as a noun.


Lesson One: Adjective Clauses

Using Subject Pronouns: who, which, that

I thanked the woman. She helped me.
I thanked the woman who helped me. I thanked the woman that helped me.

I thanked the woman = independent clause
who helped me = adjective clause

The adjective clause modifies the noun woman.

The book is mine. It is on the table.
The book which is on the table is mine. The book that is on the table is mine.

who – used for people
which – used for things
that – used for both people and things

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Using Object Pronouns: who(m), which, that

1. Pronoun used as the object of a verb

The man was Ahmed Ali. I saw him.
a) The man who(m) I saw was Ahmed Ali.
b) The man that I saw was Ahmed Ali.
c) The man I saw was Ahmed Ali.

The movie wasn’t very good. We saw it last night.
d) The movie which we saw last night wasn’t very good.
e) The movie that we saw last night wasn’t very good.
f) The movie we saw last night wasn’t very good.

Notice in the examples: The adjective clause pronouns are placed at the beginning of the clause. General guideline: Place an adjective clause pronoun as close as possible to the noun it modifies.

In (a): who is usually used instead of whom, especially in spoken English. Whom is generally used in very formal English.

In (c) and (f): An object pronoun is often omitted from an adjective clause. A subject pronoun, however, may not be omitted.

2. Pronoun used as the object of a preposition

She is the woman. I told you about her.
a) She is the woman about whom I told you.
b) She is the woman who(m) I told you about.
c) She is the woman that I told you about.
d) She is the woman I told you about.

The music was good. We listened to it last night.
e) The music to which listened to last night was good.
f) The music which we listened to last night was good.
g) The music that we listened to last night was good.
h) The music we listened to last night was good.

Notes: In very formal English, the preposition comes at the beginning of the adjective clause, as in (a) and (e). Usually, however, in everyday usage, the preposition comes after the subject and verb of the adjective clause, as in the other examples.

If the preposition comes at the beginning of the adjective clause, only whom or which may be used. A preposition is never immediately followed by that or who.


Using whose

a) I know the girl. Her bicycle was stolen.

I know the girl whose bicycle was stolen.

b) The student writes well. I read his composition.

The student whose composition I read writes well.

c) Ms. Batte has a painting. Its value is inestimable.

Ms. Batte has a painting whose value is inestimable.

Notes: Whose is used to show possession. It carries the same meaning as other possessive pronouns used as adjectives: his, her, us, and their. Like his, her, its and their, whose is connected to a noun:
her bicycle = whose bicycle
his composition = whose composition

Both whose and the noun it is connected to are placed at the beginning of the adjective clause. Whose cannot be omitted.

Whose usually modifies “people,” but it may also be used to modify “things,” as in (c).


Using where

The building is very old. He lives there (in that building).

a) The building where he lives is very old.
b) The building in which he lives is very old.
The building which he lives in is very old.
The building that he lives in is very old.
The building he lives in is very old.

Notes: Where is used in an adjective clause to modify a place (city, country, room, home, etc.) If where is used, a preposition is not included in the adjective clause. If where is not used, the preposition must be included.


Using when

I’ll never forget that day. I met you then (on that day).

a) I’ll never forget the day when I met you.
b) I’ll never forget the day on which I met you.
c) I’ll never forget the day that I met you.
d) I’ll never forget the day I met you.

Notes: When is used in an adjective clause to modify a noun of time (year, day, time, century,etc.). The use of a preposition in an adjective clause that modifies a noun of time is somewhat different from that in other adjective clauses: A preposition is used preceding which, as in (b). Otherwise, the preposition is omitted.
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