What are Relative Clauses?

So what are Relative Clauses? Basically, a relative clauses means you can put two pieces of information together into a single sentence. The relative clause is the part of a sentence that identifies people or things, or add some additional information to the sentence.  Relative clauses are introduced using relative pronouns.

Serious about passing IELTS?

Then enrol in one of our membership plans and get access to ALL the resources on this site, no advertising, your own support tutor to answer your questions as you study and 7 downloadable eBooks. MASTER Members also get 10 writing tests assessed (with comments, corrections and estimated band score) and TWO live speaking assessments (one to one with your tutor, followed by a feedback session and estimated band score). Find out more here!

Want your IELTS writing assessed with a band score?

Did you know that you can have TEN complete writing tests (10 x Task 1 and 10 x Task 2) assessed by your own support tutor and former IELTS examiner if you enrol in the MASTER Membership? Your tutor will correct any errors, give you suggestions for improvement and give you an estimated band score. Find out more here

Want a live speaking assessment one to one with a former IELTS examiner?

Did you know that you can have TWO live speaking assessments one to one with your tutor? We run a full mock speaking test with all 3 sections, followed by a discussion session where we talk your strengths and areas for improvement and tell you your approximate band score. Remember that all of our tutors are former British Council trained IELTS examiners with over 16 years experience, so you can be confident in our feedback! Find out more here

Want to earn $50 USD per month - EVERY MONTH - just for referring us?

We offer the option for a school or institution to become a subdomain partner, where they have a copy of ALL the resources on our site but on their own domain name (e.g. 'ielts.yourschool-or-company.com'). Every month that school or institution remains a partner, you generate a $50 USD commission - and you don't need to do anything! You earn $50 USD per month for each subdomain partner that signs up with us, so you can generate passive income with very little work! Find out more here

The relative pronouns are:

Relative pronouns Used for… Can replace…
WHO people he, she, we, they
WHOM* people him, her, us, them
WHOSE people his, hers, our, their
THAT people OR things A wide range of words
WHICH things A wide range of words
*WHOM is become a little old fashioned now, and is often not used (‘who’ is used instead).

Here are some examples of sentence combined using relative clauses:

Marc is a doctor. He comes from France. > Marc, who comes from France, is a doctor.

I met a teacher at the conference. She invited me.  > I was invited by the teacher whom I met at the conference.

The photographer is currently in New Zealand. Her work involves a huge amount of international travel.  > The photographer, whose work involves a huge amount of international travel, is currently in New Zealand.

You wanted me to get you a book. Here is it. > Here’s the book that you wanted me to get.

My house is not very big. It is in the country. > My house, which is in the country, is not very big.

 

Notice how the clause immediately follows the noun it relates to. To illustrate, in the examples below, the clause relates to the noun ‘game’.

CORRECT INCORRECT
The game that they are playing originated from France. The game originated from France that they are playing.

There are 2 situations in spoken English when you don’t need to say the relative pronoun.

1. When the pronoun is the object of the relative clause.

  • Do you know the person (who/m) John is meeting?
  • Here’s the money (which) you gave you last week. Thanks!
  • I liked that dinner (that) we had last night.

2. When the relative clause contains the auxiliary verb ‘to be’ and a +ed / +ing verb

  • Who’s that woman (who is) wearing the red dress?
  • The clothes (that are) lying on the floor need to be picked up.
  • She was driving a car (which was) owned by her friend.

 

We hope this lesson on What are relative clauses has helped! Now move on the next page where we look at the 2 different types of relative clause – defining and non-defining.

Any comments about this page? NOTE: your comment will be public (all users will see it). For a private comment, send your tutor a message using the My support tutor link....