Introduction to Relative Clauses

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Welcome to your Introduction to Relative Clauses lesson! In this topic we talk about:
• Relative clauses with people
Relative clauses with things
“What” and “that”
Take the quizzes when you’re ready! If you’re having problems, use the comment box to contact our English Teachers.

Relative clauses with people

Here is an example of a sentence with a relative clause:

“The girl who came to the party is called Marie.”

“who came to the party” is a relative clause. It is added to a sentence to give more clarification to what, or who the speaker is talking about:

“The man who worked with us was German.”
(“who worked with us” tells us which man.”)

“The kids who vandalised my car will be found.”
(‘who vandalised my car’ tells us which kids.”)

“What’s the name of the person who called you?”
(‘who called you’ tells us which person.”)

When you’re talking about people, you can replace “who” with “that”, but you cannot use “which”.

“The man that worked with us was German.”

“The kids that vandalised my car will be found.”

“What’s the name of the person that called you?”

Relative clauses with things

When referring to things, we use “which” or “that“. We do not use “who“.

“My car which wasn’t expensive is still running after ten years.”

“I make sandwiches that taste delicious.”

“The road that goes to town is now open again.”

“What” and “that”

“What” means “the thing/things that”. Compare these sentences:

What happened was terrible.”
(the thing that happened)

“Everything that happened was terrible.”
(not “Everything which happened.”)

“The road that was closed is now open.”
(not “The road what was closed…”)

Recap

  • Use relative clauses to give more clarification to what, or who you are talking about.
  • For people, use “who” or “that”.
  • For objects, use “which” or “that”

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