To receive a band 7 for grammar you need to use a range of complex language effectively. Therefore, it is important for you to understand and use relative clauses accurately.
First we will talk about defining relative clauses, then review non-defining relative clauses. Read the grammar tips and try the interactive practice tasks below to improve your use of this essential band 7 complex language.
What are Defining Relative Clauses?
Relative clauses function like adjectives as they are used to describe a noun. They follow the noun which they describe.
For example: That is the man who lives over the road from me.
The defining relative clause tells us essential (important) information about ‘the man’.
The noun being described in the relative clause can either be the subject or the object of the relative clause. Are the relative clauses in the following sentences subject or object relative clauses?
: The man who I spoke to at the party
was very funny.Answer
: The man is the object of the relative clause.Why
? Because the subject of the relative clause is ‘I’.
Now try the exercise below.
Hint: Look for the subject after the relative clause ‘who/which/that’
Are these ‘subject’ or ‘object’ relative clauses?
Now let’s review non-defining relative clauses.
What are Non-Defining Relative Clauses?
These clauses are introduced by a relative pronoun and they add non-essential (unimportant) information about a noun.
For example: His last painting, which was painted in Amsterdam, sold for over $5 million dollars
The painting is already defined (it is his last painting) so the non-defining relative clause simply adds extra, less important information about the painting (it was painted in Amsterdam).
Notice that the non-defining clause is separated from the main clause by two commas (,)
Do the sentences below contain defining or non-defining relative clauses?
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN SENTENCE 1 AND SENTENCE 2 IN THE EXERCISE ABOVE?
The cat, which was meowing, was very hungry.
This sentence suggests that there is only one cat. The fact that it was meowing is not very important because we already can identify the cat.
The cat which was meowing was very hungry.
This sentence suggests that there might be more than one cat, but only one cat that was meowing. The information that the cat was meowing helps us know which cat the sentence is talking about.
Omitting relative pronouns in Defining clauses
If a defining relative clause is an object clause, then the relative pronoun (who/which/that) may be omitted (deleted).
Mike is the person who I met for lunch. =
Mike is the person I met for lunch.
Click on a word from the box and then click on a gap to paste that word. Choose X if there doesn’t need to be a word in the gap.
Choose the correct relative pronoun
Make sure you use relative clauses properly in your speaking and writing. If you have any questions or tips of your own, leave them in the comments section below.