Relative Clauses

The Relative Pronouns

Case

for Persons

for Things & Animals

for Things & Persons

in Defining Clauses

Nominative

Genitive

Dative

Accusative

WHO

WHOSE

(TO) WHOM

WHO(M)

WHICH

WHOSE / OF WHICH

(TO) WHICH

WHICH

THAT

THAT

The Relative Clause

The NON-DEFINING Relative Clause is not necessary to understand the main clause.

1) it always has COMMAS (because it is not relevant to understand the main clause)

2) “THAT” cannot be used

Ex: My sister, who works for a bank, is coming to the party, too.

The key, which was made of gold, did not fit the lock.

The DEFINING Relative Clause is necessary to understand the main clause because it defines its subject or object.

Ex: The girl who is sitting on that bench is my sister.

> the Relative Clause defines which girl is meant

Could you fetch me the key which is on the kitchen table.

> the Relative Clause defines which key is meant

1) it never has commas

2) it has several VERSIONS:

a) The hotel at which we are staying is excellent.

b) The hotel which we are staying at is excellent.

c) The hotel that we are staying at is excellent.

d) The hotel we are staying at is excellent.

NOTE: a) is “formal” English, predominantly written

b) is common written style

c) “THAT” is often used instead of “WHICH” or “WHO”; the PREPOSITION is always after the VERB, never before “THAT” > spoken English

d) is called CONTACT CLAUSE because the Relative Pronoun can be dropped if it is the OBJECT of the Relative Clause > spoken English

REMEMBER:The Relative Pronoun cannot be omitted if it is the SUBJECT of the Relative Clause!

Ex: The book that is lying an the table is mine.

The GENITIVE of the Relative Clause: For both PERSONS and THINGS & ANIMALS the pronoun

“whose” can be used. Ex: I have just seen the man whose picture was in the paper.

We slept in a room whose walls were very thin.

or: We slept in a room the walls of which were very thin.

The Sentence Relative

 

,WHICH“, preceded by a COMMA, is used when the Relative Clause does not merely refer to a single word in the main clause but to the clause as a whole:

Ex. Wall Street was closed for trading on Monday to prevent further losses, which was an unusual move.

 

Substitutes

Relative Clauses can be replaced by other structures:

a PRESENT PARTICIPLE instead of a Relative Clause in the ACTIVE VOICE

Ex: The girl who is typing the letters is new here. (relative)

=> The girl typing the letters is new here. (participle)

a PAST PARTICIPLE for a Relative Clause in the PASSIVE VOICE

Ex: The words which were written on the envelope were unreadable. (relative)

The words written an the envelope were unreadable. (participle)

an INFINITIVE after ORDINAL NUMBERS or SUPERLATIVES

Ex: Our neighbour was the first who heard about the murder. (ordinal – relative)

Our neighbour was the first to hear about the murder. (infinitive)

The best thing (that) you can do is to keep quiet. (superlative – relative)

The best thing to do is to keep quiet. (infinitive)