Lesson Transcript

Hi, everybody. My name is Alisha. In this lesson, we're going to talk about relative clauses and relative pronouns. I'm going to give kind of an introduction to this grammar point and how to use it. There are some more advanced points relating to this grammar, but I'm not going to talk so much about those today. This lesson is going to be an introduction to this grammar and some ways that you can use it, hopefully, right away. Let's get started.
Alright. First of all, what is a relative clause? Relative clause is one of two key points that I want to talk about today. A relative clause, for grammar, a relative clause is like a phrase or a group of words that's like a long adjective. Remember, we use adjectives to modify nouns. We can think of a relative clause like a long adjective, a group of words, not just one word. Relative clause is like a long adjective. We use relative clauses to give extra information about a noun or a noun phrase. If you want to give more information, if you want to describe something more deeply, you can use a relative clause to do that.
Let's look at one simple example first. Okay. Example sentence, "My apartment, which is small, is a little old." This sentence includes a relative clause. Here, I'm talking about my apartment, but I have a couple of details about my apartment. I have my apartment, which is small. This is my extra information here. I'll explain a little later how to find the extra information point. But here is my relative clause. "My apartment, which is small, is a little old." This is the relative clause, the extra information about my apartment.
Here, I know one of the reasons that I know that this is my relative clause is because this clause begins with what's called a relative pronoun. Here, I've used "which" in this case. This is the second point that I want to talk about for this lesson, relative pronouns. Relative pronouns are used at the beginning of a relative clause, as we see here. Here's my relative clause, here's my relative pronoun at the very beginning. The first space or the first point in the clause is my relative pronoun. There are some cases where it's okay to drop a relative pronoun, but I'm not going to talk about those in this lesson. I'm just going to focus on making basic sentences with relative pronouns and relative clauses.
But in this case, I've used "which" as my relative pronoun. There are a couple of common ones that we can use. They are "who, that, and which." In this case, I've used "which." We can use "which" and "that" to refer to objects. In this case, in my initial example, I used "apartment." "Apartment" is not a person. "Apartment" is an object. It's something that doesn't move, it's not alive, so I need to use the correct relative pronoun. For today's lesson, we can use "that" and "which" to refer to objects. The difference for today's lesson, the difference is that "that" will be used to sound a little bit more casual, "which" will be used in more formal, I guess, or more polite sounding examples.
Here, this sounds like kind of a polite introduction to some features of my apartment. If, however, you are interested in learning a little bit more about relative clauses and when to use "that" and "which," you can check out, you can Google, or if you like, restrictive and non-restrictive clauses. This is one of the key differences between when to use "that" and when to use "which." If you'd like more information, this is the grammar point that gives more in-depth information about the differences between these two. But the other relative pronoun that I want to introduce for today is "who," which we use for people. You'll also notice, as I'll talk about later, some people like to use "who" with pets. It kind of shows that it's sort of a cute relationship, a familiar relationship. We can use "who" sometimes to refer to our pets like they're members of our family. It's kind of cute.
Okay. We're going to look at how to use these today. Let's take a look then at some more example sentences and a couple of tips. Each of these sentences uses a relative clause. Let's look at the first example. Here, "My teacher, who is from the U.S., has brown hair." Okay. Here, we can find the relative clause. There are a couple different ways to do this, first, by identifying the relative pronoun. In this case, "who" is the relative pronoun because it's referring to my teacher. My teacher, that's a person, so I need to choose a relative pronoun that refers to people. We can use "that" in some kind of casual situations, but for this lesson, I want to introduce "who" as being maybe the best and clearest choice for people. "My teacher, who is from the U.S., has brown hair. Again, the relative clause is here. In this lesson, a quick and easy way to find the relative clause is by checking for the commas. I'm using commas around the relative clauses for this lesson. If you know the more advanced grammar point, that means that these are all non-restrictive clauses.
Okay. Let's look at another example though. Next one, "Our office, which is in L.A., gets really hot in summer. Again, just as I did with my first example sentence, I've used the relative pronoun, "which" here. Relative pronoun "which" begins my clause, and using the commas as a hint, I can find where the clause finishes. "Our office, which is in L.A., gets really hot in summer." Maybe you can see one of the things that you can do to check to see if you have found the relative clause or not is to remove that part of the sentence from the sentence altogether.
For example, up here, "My teacher, who is from the U.S., has brown hair." If I removed this part of the sentence, it becomes, "My teacher has brown hair." The sentence that remains is grammatically correct. I know, okay, yes, this is the relative clause. It's the extra information. In other words, I don't need this information to make a grammatically correct sentence. We can do the same thing here. "Our office, which is in L.A., gets really hot in summer." If I remove the relative clause, "Our office gets really hot in summer," this is a grammatically correct sentence, so I know that I've found the correct spot for the relative clause.
Alright. Let's look at a couple of other examples then. Next one, "My neighbors, who are really noisy, host barbecues every summer." Here I wrote, "BBQs" but barbecues. "My neighbors," you'll notice though I've got the word "neighbors" in the plural form, "my neighbors," but I've used the singular "who." That's okay, actually. We can use "who" in this case. It's fine. You'll hear native speakers do it. Don't worry about it. "My neighbors, who are really noisy," again, watching for those commas in this case. "My neighbors, who are really noisy, host barbecues every summer." Again, to check that I have the correct information as the relative clause, I can remove it from the sentence. "My neighbors host barbecues every summer." It's grammatically correct, so I know that this part is the relative clause.
Okay. Last one then. "The dogs, who are puppies, have a lot of energy." As I talked about over here, sometimes we use the word "who" for animals, for pets. In this case, the speaker wants to talk about his or her dogs and they use "who" to refer to those dogs. It kind of shows like a friendly or a familiar or like a family relationship. "The dogs, who are puppies, have a lot of energy." You might hear native speakers doing that. Again, the same rule applies. If we remove the relative clause, "The dogs have a lot of energy," is a grammatically correct sentence.
This is just a quick introduction to relative clauses, relative pronouns, and how to use them. And as I said, there are some more advanced grammar points that you can check. Those are called restrictive and non-restrictive clauses, if you'd like some more information about when to use "which," when to use "that," and how to use commas to set off your relative clause as well. There's a lot of interesting information and these are just a few patterns that you can use with this grammar. I hope that it was useful for you. Thanks very much for watching this lesson and I will see you again next time. Bye.