Lesson Transcript

Hi, everybody! My name is Alisha.
In this lesson, I’m going to talk about “relative clauses.”
I’m also going to talk about “reduced relative clauses.”
I’m going to start by introducing the main points of this grammar and then I’m going to introduce a lot of example sentences, so we can see the different ways that we use this grammar point.
Let’s begin.
Okay, first, I want to begin by explaining what a “relative clause” is.
So, a “relative clause” is something like, it’s like a phrase, an extra phrase, like a long adjective. So, we use relative clauses to give extra information about a noun. These come after the noun that they modify, so you can imagine in most cases in English, adjectives come before the nouns they modify, but a relative clause, it’s kind of like an adjective. It tells us something extra about a noun, but this comes after, after the noun, okay.
So, when we’re making relative clauses, we use something called a relative pronoun and basic relative clauses begin with a relative pronoun. So, examples of relative pronouns are in this list here. So, relative pronouns are “that, which, who, whom, where, and when.”
So there are different situations where we use these relative pronouns.
So, when we use “that” and “which,” we’re talking about people, or I’m sorry, we’re talking about a person or an object, so that’s people or things. The difference between “that” and “which” is actually related to a more advanced grammar point which I have marked here.
We use “that” in something that’s called a “restrictive clause.” You might hear this word, “restrictive use” or there’s another word that’s used that’s called “descriptive clauses.” So, a “restrictive clause” is a clause that gives us essential information about the noun. I’ll share some examples of this a little later.”
We use “which” then for people and things, as I said. It tends to sound a little more formal than that and we use “which” in “non-restrictive clauses” or you might hear it, the expression “non-descriptive clauses” as well. So, a “non-restrictive clause” is a clause that gives non-essential information about a noun. So that means we don’t have to have that information to understand the noun or to understand the situation completely.
So again, I’ll share some examples of these a little bit later.
Let’s look at the next pair.
The next pair is “who” and “whom,” who and whom.
We use “who” for people and some people like to use it for pets. It’s kind of like the pet is a member of their family, so you might hear that. You might hear “who” used to talk about pets.
“Whom” then is used for people as well, if it’s the object of the clause. This is a point that is becoming rarer. Fewer and fewer people are using “whom” in this way. In most cases, even native speakers tend to use “who” for all people, so this is one point to keep in mind. If you want to be absolutely, perfectly correct, you can use “whom,” but to some people, it might sound a little bit like too polite or it might sound like you’re trying too hard, so, it’s okay to use “who” if you’re ever not sure.
Finally, the last two are “where” and “when.”
So we use “where” for places and “when” for time. So again, I’ll share some examples of these in a moment.
For now, let’s take a look at the examples. I’ll come back to these points a bit later. Let’s look then, at this first example sentence. So I’ve marked the relative clause in each sentence in red marker.
So, this first example sentence introduces a basic relative clause pattern.
“This marker, which my company bought, is red.”
So in this simple sentence, I’m describing this marker.
“This marker, which my company bought, is red.”
So, here, my relative clause is this part right here and there are a few different ways, a few hints you can remember to help you identify relative clauses. I’ve listed them here.
The first hint or the first tip to identify a relative clause is “punctuation.”
Remember, punctuation means like a period, comma, question mark and so on. A punctuation hint, relative clause is sometimes, not always, have these commas around the clause. This is also a really good hint that the relative clause is a non-restrictive clause. That means it’s not essential to understand the noun. So this one tip, but this is not always something that you can use. Sometimes there’s no punctuation you can use.
Tip number 2, is “a phrase that begins with a relative pronoun.”
So, in this case, the phrase does begin with a relative pronoun. Here, it’s “which,” so I talked about the relative pronoun “which” as one of the relative pronouns we use to describe people and things. So here, we have a relative pronoun. It begins with this phrase.
Third, “a phrase that follows a noun and gives us extra information about it.”
In this case, this expression, this phrase comes after. It follows a noun, marker, and it tells us extra information. So, we know that this is probably a relative clause.
Another really great way to test is “to try removing the clause and seeing if the sentence is grammatically correct.” So if I remove this part, the sentence becomes, “This marker is red.” It’s a grammatically correct sentence. So this marker is red. This is true. So that’s basic information about this noun. If I want to give extra information, “This marker, which my company bought, is red,” I can do that with a relative clause. So this is a really simple example of a non-restrictive actually relative clause in a sentence. So this is non-essential information. We do not need this point to understand this noun, but it tells us something extra.
Okay, so let’s continue on to this next pair here.
First, let’s read the sentence. I want to read the first one.
“The computer that he bought online is really fast.”
So here, of course, for today’s lesson, the relative clause is in red, but as I mentioned, not all relative clauses are surrounded by punctuation marks. This is one example. So, we tend to see this punctuation point with non-restrictive clauses. We can; however, see point two in this one, a phrase that begins with the relative pronoun. So here, we see “that” is used. So this is one hint we can think about. And third, a phrase that follows a noun and gives us extra information about it. So, we see computer is our noun here and we see some extra information about the computer here. So we can be sure that this is a relative clause. Again, if we try to remove this, “The computer is really fast,” we make a grammatically correct sentence. So, we can be confident that this is the relative clause.
So why aren’t there punctuation marks here? This is an example of what I mentioned before, a “restrictive clause.” So, “restrictive clause” is something that gives us essential information about the noun. So here, we need this information in order to understand this noun. So, “The computer is really fast” but for some reason, the speaker wants to be specific, “The computer that he bought online is really fast.”
So, you might think, why do we need to know this information? Why is this essential information for this noun? This comes into play, that means this is something that’s useful when you have a few items that you’re comparing. You’re talking about differences. So imagine you’re speaking with a co-worker and you’re comparing different computers in your office and you want to say something like, “The computer that he bought online is really fast.” And then you might say something like this, “But the computer that he bought at a second-hand shop is slow.” So, the computer that he bought at a second-hand shop is slow. This follows the same pattern here, but we’re comparing two different items and we want to make it specific. We want to be clear which item is which.
So, this one that he bought online, so that’s an essential piece of information about that computer and the other one that he bought at a second-hand shop is slow, so we need this information right here, it’s essential, we have this information to understand the differences between these two nouns. So this is an example of a restrictive clause, therefore we use “that” here, “that” and no punctuation. So, if you have a restrictive clause, you won’t see these commas around the clause. So, this is a quick introduction to that.
I want to continue though to the next parts. In the following example sentences, we’re going to talk a little bit about “reduced relative clauses.” So a “reduced relative clause” is a relative clause that becomes shorter, it becomes smaller, reduced, we reduce it. So, to do that, I want to first talk about this point down here and by “reduced,” I mean we can remove the pronoun which I talked about over here. I’m off the screen, sorry. So, to reduce a relative clause, we remove the pronoun and the linking verbs. So the “linking verb” is usually the verb “be,” some form of “be” like “is / are.” So, when we reduce this as we’ll see in just a moment, the phrase becomes slightly shorter, that’s all. It becomes easier to say, shorter to say.
So, we can reduce if, number one, “the relative clause uses a relative pronoun and it uses the progressive form of the verb, here, it uses an adjective, it uses the passive form or it uses a prepositional phrase.” So, I’ll share some examples of these.
Second, we can reduce “if the relative pronoun functions as the object of the clause,” the object of the clause. So, a quick hint, if your relative pronoun is followed by a verb, it’s the subject of the clause. So this is a really quick way to test, is it the subject or the object? So, if it’s followed by a verb, we’ll see it’s the subject. Again, we’ll… we’ll see some examples.
So, with this in mind, let’s take a look at all of these example sentences. First, I want to say, all of these sentences are correct. There’s no difference in meaning between a regular relative clause and a reduced relative clause. They mean exactly the same thing. We’re just making the sentence a little bit shorter, so it’s up to you to choose which you prefer.
Let’s look at an example:
First:
“The guy who is talking to the teacher is my roommate.”
So here’s my relative clause, “who is talking to the teacher.”
“The guy who is talking to the teacher is my roommate.”
So here, we have the relative pronoun, “who,” which we used for people. “Who is,” we see there’s this linking verb, the “be” verb and I have the verb in progressive tense, talking here.
So this is one case where I can make a reduced relative clause because the relative clause uses a relative pronoun, plus the progressive form of a verb which we see here. So, to reduce, we simply remove “who is,” reduced with relative pronoun “and” with your linking verb in this case.
So, the sentence becomes…
“The guy talking to the teacher is my roommate.”
It’s still grammatically correct. We’ve just removed part of the sentence.
Let’s look at another example.
“This is the book that you recommended.”
So here, my relative pronoun is that and I’ve followed it with “you recommended.” So this is an example where there’s no linking verb here, actually. So, this is the book that is something that actually native speakers will drop here. “This is the book you recommended.” We can also make this sentence.
So, in some cases, I’ve seen some questions, some viewer questions where uses of that like this, people ask, should I use it, shouldn’t I use it? The kind of generally accepted guideline is that if you can remove that, it’s good to do. It’s not incorrect to include that in a situation like this, but just for clarity, it’s often a good idea to remove it when possible. So, “This is the book that you recommended,” is perfectly fine. “This is the book you recommended” is also perfectly fine, so it’s up to you to choose. Okay. And for a grammar point here, we see that the relative pronoun is not followed by a verb here. So, this is one sort of example where you might choose to drop or not drop, actually. I personally would choose to drop here.
Okay, let’s move along then to the next one:
“Which of these drinks that are on the table is yours?”
So here, my relative clause is “that are on the table,” that are on the table. Here, I have my relative pronoun; I have my linking verb, “are,” in this case; then I have a prepositional phrase “that are on the table.” So I mentioned prepositional phrases can be reduced. We can make a reduced relative clause if we’re using a prepositional phrase. That means, “Which of these drinks on the table is yours?” So again, we can remove the relative pronoun and the linking verb there.
Okay, another example:
“Did everyone who took the class trip get sick?”
So here, there’s a big hint. We see a relative pronoun, yes, but the relative pronoun is followed by a verb. Here, it’s “took,” past tense of “take.” So, that means we actually cannot reduce this one. We cannot make a change of this one.
“Did everyone took the class trip get sick?”
That’s not correct. We cannot do that. So this sentence, there is no change here.
Let’s look at the next one:
“This is the place where we first met.”
So here, my relative pronoun is “where.” I mentioned “where” is used for places. Here, there’s no verb that follows it, so this is one case, again, like we saw up here, there’s no linking verb here, either, but because it’s functioning as the object, we can remove it.
“This is the place we first met.”
So, it’s okay to remove that there.
Okay, one more example:
“Do you remember the time when we went on a family trip to Europe?”
So here, I’m using “when” because it’s a time question. And again, we don’t have a verb here. There’s nothing here. Again, we have this “we.” So, we can remove this part if we like.
“Do you remember the time we went on a family trip to Europe?” is also okay.
So there are these examples like this one, this one, and this one, where there’s no linking verb, but because the relative pronoun functions as the object of the clause, it’s okay to remove it. So, in these cases, it’s quite natural to include it, but in cases like that, because that is such a common word, it’s kind of a guideline, I suppose, to try to remove it where possible.
Okay, so, that was a lot of information, I know, but this is a pretty good, I hope, introduction to relative clauses, how to make them and some different patterns that you can use, especially when you’re reducing them. So I hope that this was helpful for you. If you have any questions or comments or if you want to practice making an example sentence with the relative clause, please feel free to do so in the comment section of this video. Thanks very much for watching this lesson and I will see you again soon. Bye-bye!

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EnglishClass101.com Verified
Tuesday at 06:30 PM
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EnglishClass101.com Verified
Monday at 09:20 PM
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Hello there Huberto,


Thanks for the question regarding your sentences. 😄


A couple of corrections/tips here for you:


- My grandmother gave me these leather boots.


- The city that she visited in April, is really big and beautiful.


- Don't forget capital letters for nouns!


Feel free to ask us any other questions that come up.


Sincerely,

Éva

Team EnglishClass101.com

EnglishClass101.com Verified
Monday at 09:17 PM
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Hello Aye,


Thanks for the question!


Here are some linking words: am, is, are, was, were, will be, was being, has been. Other common linking verbs relate to the five senses (to look, to feel, to smell, to sound, and to taste). To appear, to become, and to seem are common linking verbs too.


If you ever have any other questions, please let us know! 😉


Sincerely,

Éva

Team EnglishClass101.com

EnglishClass101.com Verified
Monday at 09:15 PM
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Hello Bich,


That can happen! There are a few words like that. 😄


We have so many lessons and a lot of support for you here during your studies and are constantly updating the lessons on our site so please stay tuned! 👍


Feel free to ask us any questions that come up.


Sincerely,

Éva

Team EnglishClass101.com

EnglishClass101.com Verified
Monday at 09:14 PM
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Hello Tran,


We’re very happy to have you here. 😄👍


If you can replace the word with “he”' or “'she,” use who. If you can replace it with “him” or “her,” use whom. You will hear a lot less of 'whom' than the word 'who.'


If you ever have any questions, please let us know! 😉


Sincerely,

Éva

Team EnglishClass101.com

Aye Mon
Thursday at 03:45 PM
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Let me know 'Linking verb'. How should we know it?

Huberto Ramos
Thursday at 02:56 PM
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Hi these are my examples, are correct?


1. This boots, which gave me my grandmother are leather


2. The city, that she visited in april is really big and beauty


3. The girl who is dancing in the rain is the most beautiful girl


4. This is the cafe, that you and me visited in february!


😄

Bich Lan
Wednesday at 10:56 PM
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Saying the word "so" too much. I thought it was unnecessary because I was tangled by it

Tran Pham Gia Bao
Wednesday at 08:56 PM
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is there any difference about who and whom