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4.7: Relative/ Adjective Clauses

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    Relative Clauses/Adjective Clauses

    A relative clause is a dependent clause that is used as an adjective.  In other words, it is a group of words with a subject and a verb that can’t stand alone and is used to modify or describe a noun.  A relative clause always begins with a relative pronoun.  Another name for a relative clause is an adjective clause.  The relative pronouns are as follows:

    Relative Pronouns                 Compound Relative Pronouns

    Who             people   (subjects)                           whoever / whosoever
    Whom          people   (objects)                             whomever / whomsoever
    Which           things, animals                                whichever / whichsoever
    That             people, places, things, animals                                  
    Whose          possessive nouns and adjectives        whosever / whosesoever
    Where          places                                             wherever / wheresoever
    When           times                                              whenever / whensoever
    Why             reasons                                           whyever / whysoever

    Relative pronouns introduce relative clauses.  As I said above, another name for a relative clause is an adjective clause because, like adjectives, relative clauses modify (change or describe) nouns.  Relative pronouns generally come directly after the noun they modify.  The noun that the relative pronoun modifies has the same meaning as the relative pronoun.  The compound relative pronouns with the ­­–ever and –soever (rarely used anymore) suffixes added on to the relative pronoun intensify the meaning to cover any and all possibilities of the particular relative pronoun.  (Also, the words where, when, and why listed above are actually relative adverbs, but they are used exactly as relative pronouns.  Furthermore, the word whose is in fact a relative adjective, but it also is used exactly as a relative pronoun.) 


    The person who stole my car left it parked on Aurora Avenue North.
    I gave the report to the girl whose father visited our class.
    The reason why he came to my office was to tell me a secret.
    The man that I saw was standing on the east side of the street.
    The book that I bought cost $28.00.
    The city that I am thinking about is not very big.
    The thieves whoever they are had better not try to sell the stolen goods.
    The man whosoever she finally decides to marry had better be rich.

    Diagrammed Relative Clauses

    Relative clauses are actually two complete sentences joined together into one sentence.  One sentence is an independent clause (a complete sentence) and the other becomes a relative clause (not a complete sentence).  In other words, two sentences become one sentence.
    Note these examples, please.

    John is studying in the library.  John is waiting for his friend.
    John, who is waiting for his friend, is studying in the library.

    My son is looking for his book.  He lost the book yesterday.
    My son is looking for the book that he lost yesterday.

    I went for a walk with my friend.  His father is a lawyer.
    I went for a walk with my friend whose father is a lawyer.

    Central Falls is the city.  I was born in the city.
    Central Falls is the city where I was born.

    Wednesday is the day.  I take out the trash on that day.
    Wednesday is the day when I take out the trash.

    Roger is my best friend.  I met Roger in Iran in 1975.
    Roger, whom I met in 1975, is my best friend.

    4.7: Relative/ Adjective Clauses is shared under a CC BY-NC 4.0 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Don Bissonnette.

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