Relative Clauses for intermediate learners

Relative clauses give us more information about people and things. They are used to combine clauses and avoid repetition. Click here to learn!

"Relative Clauses" in the English Grammar

What Are Relative Clauses?

Whenever we have a relative pronoun, relative determiner, or a relative adverb at the beginning of a clause, we call it a relative clause. Below, we are going to learn all about it.

Relative Clauses: Types

In English, we have two types of relative clauses. Take a look at the list below:

Now, let us analyze each:

Adjectival Relative Clauses

These relative clauses function as adjectives and describe nouns or noun phrases in sentences. They can begin with relative pronouns or relative adverbs. Look:

I'm not sure I know what you are talking about. (With a relative pronoun)

The old man that is walking slowly to the bench is my husband. (With a relative pronoun)

Are you talking about the building where we killed the last victim? (With a relative adverb)

Ursula remembered the day when she graduated. (With a relative adverb)


It is important to know that whenever a relative pronoun is referring to a noun that is in the sentence, it is no longer a relative pronoun. It is a relative adverb.

Nominal Relative Clauses

Nominal relative clauses mainly function as a subject, an object, or a complement for the independent clause. They can begin with nominal relative pronouns or relative determiners. Look at the list below:

Now, let us examine some examples below:

I can date whoever I want so stop bossing around. (As a nominal relative pronoun)

Why do you get angry whenever he decides to spend time with his friends? (As a nominal relative pronoun)

Which country he is in isn't really the case right now. (As a relative determiner)

As you can see we have a noun after the modifier.

I think she doesn't know which cat you're talking about. (As a relative determiner)


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Nominal Relative Clauses

Nominal relative clauses are used as different parts of speeches and act as a noun or a noun phrase. Click here to learn more!

Dependent Clauses

Dependent clauses are clauses that cannot form sentences on their own. In this lesson, we will learn all about dependent clauses.

Independent Clauses

Independent clauses can stay alone and they are used as a whole meaningful sentence. In this lesson, we will learn about them.

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