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Monday, July 26, 2010

Relative Clauses (1)

The girl who I was talking about is beautiful

Part A

A relative clause gives more information about someone or something referred to in a main clause. Some relative clauses (defining relative clauses) are used to specify which person or thing we mean, or which type of person or thing we mean:
• The couple who live next to us have sixteen grandchildren.
• Luna and Ariel brought a camera which is black.

Notice that we don’t put a comma between the noun and a defining relative clause. Relative clauses begin with a relative pronoun: a wh-word ( who, which, etc.) or that. However, sometimes we omit the wh-word/that and use a zero relative pronoun.
• We went to a restaurant which/that) Evelyn Salt had recommended to us.

We prefer to put a relative clause immediately after or as close as possible to the noun it adds information to:
• The building for sale was the house which had a slate roof and was by the stream
(rather than The building for sale was the house by the stream which has a slate roof.)

Part B

When we use a defining relative clause, the relative pronoun can be the subject or the object of the clause. In the following sentences the relative pronoun is the subject. Notice that the verb follows the relative pronouns:
• Rockall is an uninhabited island which/that lies north west of mainland Scotland.
• We have a friend who/that plays the piano

In the following sentences the relative pronoun is the object. Notice that there is a noun (or pronoun) between the relative pronoun and the verb in the relative clause. In this case, we can use a zero relative pronoun.
• He showed me the rocks (which/that) he had brought back from Australia.
• That’s the man (who/that) I met at Allison’s party.
We can also use whom instead of who as object, although whom is very formal:
• She’s an actress whom most people think is at the peak of her career.

We use that as subject after something and anything; words such as all, little, much, and none used as nouns; and superlatives. (Which is also used as subject after something and anything, but less commonly. ) We use that or zero relative pronoun as object after these:
• These walls are all that remain of the city. (not.. all which remain…)
• She’s one of the kindest people (that) I know. (not… who I know.)
• Is there anything (that) I can do to help? (rather than…anything which I can do…)

Part C

You can’t add a subject or object to the relative clause in addition to the relative pronoun:
• The man who gave me the book was the librarian. (not The man who he gave me…)

Notice also that adding a pronoun to the main clause in addition to the relative clause is unnecessary, although it is found in speech:
• A friend of mine who is a solicitor helped me. (or, in speech A friend of mine who is a solicitor – she helped me.)

1. The thought of going home to his family was all that kept him happy while he was working abroad.
2. She was probably the hardest working student (that) I’ve ever taught.
3. Lewis, the man (who/m) Johnson beat in the last World Championships, has broken the world record.
4. Lightning bonfires at this time of the year is a tradition which goes back to the 17th century.
5. Dorothy said something (that) I couldn’t hear clearly.
6. There was little (that) we could do to help her.
7. The Royal Floridian is an express train which runs between New York and Miami.
8. The machine (which) I have to use in my job cost over a million pounds.
9. The diary (which) Ron kept when he was in prison was sold for $50,000.
10. I have a friend who ran in the New York Marathon last year.
11. We were told that we would be held responsible for anything that went wrong.
12. He’s probably the best golfer (that) I’ve played against.
13. Jane has now sold the car (which) she was given by her parents.
14. The house which is next to ours is for sale.
15. Most of the forests which once covered Britain have now been destroyed.
16. He took me to see the old farmhouse (which) he is rebuilding.
17. There have been complaints about the noise from people who live in the flats.
18. A doctor (who/m) we know has had to retire through ill health.
19. My brother who is in the army came to see us.
20. A small amount of money was all that was taken in the robbery.
21. The path was made by walkers who crossed the mountains each summer.
22. The difficulties of living near the volcano are well understood by the people who farm the land there.
23. The danger of driving is something that worries me each time I travel.
24. The park (which) I usually go running in is across the road.
25. I bought the present (which) I gave him for Christmas in Japan.
26. The person (who/m) we selected to represent us on the committee has had to resign due to illness.
27. It’s one of the most interesting books (that) I’ve read this year.

Reference: Advanced Grammar in Use - Martin Hewings

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