A non-defining relative clause is used to provide extra information about a noun. Using non-defining clauses allows you to combine information from more than one sentence making your writing more cohesive. It also shows the examiner you have at least a band 7 understanding of English grammar.
For Example – My garden, which is often full of cats, attracts a lot of small birds
Here the non-defining relative clause provides more information about the garden.
With non-defining relative clauses:
- We can’t use the relative pronoun ‘that’.
My garden, that which is often full of cats, attracts a lot of small birds. X
My garden, which is often full of cats, attracts a lot of small birds. ✓
- The relative pronoun (who/which/whom/where) cannot be left out of the sentence.
- We separate the relative clause from the main clause with a comma or commas if it is in the middle of the sentence.
- The relative pronoun can refer to a single noun or to a whole clause.
My garden, which is often full of cats, attracts a lot of small birds.
– which refers to garden.
Many people believe we shouldn’t test medicines on animals, which is difficult if we want to keep people safe.
– which refers to the whole main clause (Many people believe we shouldn’t test medicines on animals).
Now let’s practice!
NON-DEFINING RELATIVE CLAUSES | Exercise
Combine the following sentences by using non-defining relative clauses. If the non-defining relative clause must be embedded in the sentence, then, where possible, keep the information in the order it is found in the two sentence prompt.
I live in a house with no garage. It means I have to park on the street.
I live in a house without a garage, [which means] I have to park on the street.
How did you do? We hope that you understand non defining relative clauses better now. Remember that if you want to use this grammar successfully in your IELTS test, you must practice with it as much as possible.
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