WHAT IS A RELATIVE CLAUSE? RELATIVE CLAUSES BEGIN WITH THESE WORDS : who which that whose whom when where A RELATIVE CLAUSE (ALSO CALLED ADJECTIVE CLAUSE) IS A SUBORDINATE CLAUSE THAT GIVES INFORMATION ABOUT A NOUN (SUBJECT OR OBJECT) IN THE MAIN CLAUSE. HERE ARE SOME EXAMPLES OF SENTENCES WITH RELATIVE CLAUSES: She’s the writer who won the Booker Prize this year. He wore the tie that I gave him to the party. I asked the person whose car is blocking my driveway to move it. The girl whom he finally married is Danish. Spring is the time when the trees blossom. Egypt is where the pyramids are. She was very upset, which is understandable The girl who came to the door had long red braids. People who want to do business in Asia need to learn Asian Languages. IF YOUR INFORMATION REFERS TO A PERSON OR PEOPLE, USE WHO. That’s the man who mugged me. I’m the girl who called you yesterday. YOU CAN USE THAT OR WHICH TO REFER TO THINGS. I LOVE THE TREE THAT (OR WHICH) GROWS OUTSIDE MY WINDOW. THE BOOK THAT (OR WHICH) YOU GAVE ME IS GREAT! USE WHOSE TO EXPRESS POSSESSIVES WHEN THEY REFER TO A PERSON. The person whose wallet I found must be very worried. The people whose homes were flooded stayed in a shelter. THERE ARE TWO KINDS OF RELATIVE CLAUSES: ESSENTIAL (also called RESTRICTIVE, IDENTIFYING, NECESSARY) and NONESSENTIAL (also called NONRESTRICTIVE, NONIDENTIFYING, OR UNNECESSARY. ESSENTIAL CLAUSES: RULES ESSENTIAL CLAUSES ARE NEVER SET OFF BY COMMAS CLAUSES BEGINNING WITH THAT ARE ALWAYS ESSENTIAL. NONESSENTIAL CLAUSES: COMPARE THE FOLLOWING EXAMPLES: My Aunt Mary, who lives in Vancouver, has five children. My Aunt Mary has five children. In the first sentence, we learn some extra information about Mary, but it is not necessary. If we drop the clause, we get the main idea the speaker wanted to convey. My Aunt Mary who lives in Vancouver has five children. If you drop the commas from the first sentence, it suggests that the speaker has two aunts named Mary, one of whom lives in Vancouver. She was very shaken up by the accident, which was understandable. . In this sentence, the nonessential clause gives information about the entire main clause. Note that only one comma is used in this situation. NON ESSENTIAL CLAUSES: RULES NONESSENTIAL CLAUSES ARE SET APART FROM THE MAIN CLAUSE BY COMMAS. ONLY ONE COMMA IS NEEDED IF THE CLAUSE IS AT THE END OF THE SENTENCE. YOU CANNOT USE THE WORD THAT AT THE BEGINNING OF A NONESSENTIAL CLAUSE.