• We use relative clauses to describe or give extra information about something we have already mentioned.
  • Pronouns who, that, which, whose, whom, when, where are often used to introduce relative clauses. Remember that we use:

which for things

who for people

that for things or people

whose for possession

where for a place

when for time

  • There are two kinds of relative clauses: defining and non-defining.
  • Defining relative clauses are used to give essential information about someone or something. They are clauses that you need in the sentence for it to make sense.
  • In defining relative clauses we may use that instead of who or which.
  • E.g. The officials who / that work in the Foreign Office are often referred to as Foreign Service officers.
  • We may leave out the relative pronoun when it is the object of the verb:
  • E.g. He is the public figure (who/that) the whole world knows.
  • NB! There are no commas before and after the defining relative clause.
  • Non-defining relative clauses are used to give extra information which isn’t absolutely necessary.
  • E.g. Alexander Vershbow, who was US ambassador to Russia from 2001 to 2005, gave an opening address at the conference held on Monday.
  • NB! We use commas to separate a non-defining relative clause from the rest of the sentence.
  • Warning: In a non-defining relative clause you cannot use that instead of who, whom, or which.
  • Remember! A non-defining relative clause may refer to all the information contained in the independent clause, preceding it, not just one noun.
  • In this case which is to be used.
  • E.g. The conference was attended only by junior officials, which was unusual.
  • Remember! When whom has a preposition, the preposition usually comes at the beginning of the clause.
  • When who has a preposition, the preposition usually comes at the end of the clause.
  • e.g. James Johnson, to whom everyone referred as Mr.J., visited the embassy.
  • James Johnson, who everyone referred to as Mr.J., visited the embassy.
  • Remember! Whose is used for possession.
  • It is used for things as well as for people.
  • E.g. We invite only those people whose credentials are carefully examined in advance.
  • I have found a document whose front page is missing.

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