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Welcome to this week's writing lesson from

 MyEnglishTeacher.net

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Topic: Adjective Clauses

Adjective clause? Santa Claus? Arenít they the same?

Well.  Um.  No, they arenít the same.  Letís begin with Santa Claus.  Heís the chubby old man that lives at the North Pole.  Now, letís talk about adjective clauses. 

Adjective clauses are adjectives.  However, they look like sentences because they have verbs and nouns.  Take a look at the following sentences with adjectives.  

     I love my new watch.

     George gave me a leather wallet.

     Elvis Presley was a famous singer.

     She just bought a blue car.  

All of the words in red are adjectives.  They are describing the nouns (the words in blue).

Here are some more examples:  

I just bought the you recommended book.

Frank is the taught me how to cook chef.

Snowmobiles are you can ride on the snow cars.  

Notice that these adjectives have verbs (recommended, taught, and ride).  In fact, these adjectives look like small sentences!  In some languages, this grammar is correct.   In English, however, the above 3 sentences are INCORRECT!  The problem is that when the adjective has a verb (and looks like a small sentence), it canNOT be before the noun.  When the adjective has a verb (like the above examples), they are placed AFTER the noun.  In addition, these types of adjectives are called adjective clauses. 

As we said above, adjective clauses are adjectives, but they look like sentences because they have verbs and nouns. Because they look like sentences, put the adjective clause after the noun.  Like these:

I just bought the book you recommended.

Frank is the chef taught me how to cook.

Snowmobiles are cars you can ride on the snow.  

THERE IS STILL A PROBLEM.  When you use adjective clauses, you often need a word that connects the noun with the adjective clause.  The word acts like glue and keeps the noun and the adjective clause together.  This word is called the relative pronoun.  For our purposes, letís call it the RP (relative pronoun).

So, here are the rules:

If the NOUN is a    then the RP is
person >> who or that
thing >> which or that

Using these rules, we get:  

I just bought the book which you recommended.

-OR-

I just bought the book that you recommended.  

Frank is the chef who taught me how to cook.

-OR-

Frank is the chef that taught me how to cook.  

Snowmobiles are cars which you can ride on the snow.

-OR-

Snowmobiles are cars that you can ride on the snow.  

Who, which, and that are just three RPs.  There are more  RPs (whom, whose), but they will be discussed in a later lesson. 

Sometimes, you donít need the RP.  A good rule to remember:  If the word after the RP is a verb, you must have the RP there.  If the word after the RP is not a verb, you probably donít need it. 

Example:  

      I just bought the book that you recommended. 

The word after the RP is you.  You is not a verb.  Therefore, the following sentence is also correct.

      I just bought the book you recommended. 

When the noun is a proper name (and begins with a capital letter), do NOT use that.   

  CORRECT

Winston Churchill, who was the prime minister of England, is considered one of the greatest leaders of the 20th Century. 
INCORRECT Winston Churchill, that was the prime minister of England, is considered one of the greatest leaders of the 20th Century.

Some adjective clauses are necessary in the sentence; some adjective clauses are not necessary, but they are used just to give extra information.   When the adjective clause is NOT necessary, use commas.  When the adjective clause IS necessary, donít use commas.   

Example:

      Wine that is made in southern Italy is  very expensive.

Here, the adjective clause (that is made in southern Italy)  is necessary because if you take it out, the meaning of the sentence completely changes.  Take a look:

      Wine is  very expensive.

You can see that the first sentence is specifically saying that wine from southern Italy is expensive.  However, when you take out the adjective clause, the meaning becomes ALL wine is expensive.  The meaning of these two sentences is very different.  The difference is completely dependent on the adjective clause.  Therefore, the adjective clause is NECESSARY.  As a result, do not use commas.

In addition, when the adjective clause is not necessary at all (it just adds extra information), that is usually not used.  

CORRECT The president of the company, who is a Harvard graduate, plans on retiring at the end of the month.
INCORRECT The president of the company, that is a Harvard graduate, plans on retiring at the end of the month.

Lastly, do not include the noun or use a pronoun that refers to the noun you are describing.  

Example:

     The concert was loud.  I went to it.

CORRECT

The concert that I went to was loud.

INCORRECT

The concert that I went to it was loud.

The noun being described is concert It refers to concert.  Therefore, it is not used in the adjective clause (I went to). 

Quiz Time

Directions: Put the two sentences together to create one sentence by making an adjective clause.  Note: There may be more than one answer.   

1. I love movies.  Movies are exciting.  

2. Do you have a dog?  The dog is large with white fur.

3. She is the lady.  The lady helped me find the magazine I was looking for.

4. Mount Everest is very dangerous to climb.  Mount Everest is the highest mountain in the world.

5. Cars are very efficient.  The cars run on electricity.

6. Dr. Jones writes books.  Dr. Jones is a retired university professor.

7. This is the ring.  My mother gave me the ring for my wedding.

8. New York's Long Island has a booming real estate market.  Long Island is shaped like a fish.

9.  The manager is from Brazil.  She is in my office.

10. The music is rock and roll.  I listen to the music.

 



©2001 Advanced Learning Center and ©2001 MyEnglishTeacher.net.  All rights reserved.

1. I love movies.  Movies are exciting.  

Answers: I love movies that are exciting.

                   I love movies which are exciting.

2. Do you have a dog?  The dog is large with white fur.

Answers: Do you have a dog that is large with white fur?

                   Do you have a dog which is large with white fur?

3. She is the lady.  The lady helped me find the magazine I was looking for.

Answers: She is the lady who helped me find the magazine I was looking for.

                   She is the lady that helped me find the magazine I was looking for.

4. Mount Everest is very dangerous to climb.  Mount Everest is the highest mountain in the world.

Answer: Mount Everest, which is the highest mountain in the world, is very dangerous to climb.

5. Cars are very efficient.  The cars run on electricity.

Answers: Cars which run on electricity are very efficient.

                   Cars that run on electricity are very efficient.

6. Dr. Jones writes books.  Dr. Jones is a retired university professor.

Answer: Dr. Jones, who is a retired university professor, writes books.

7. This is the ring.  My mother gave me the ring for my wedding.

Answers: This is the ring that my mother gave me for my wedding.

                   This is the ring which my mother gave me for my wedding.

                   This is the ring my mother gave me for my wedding.

8. New York's Long Island has a booming real estate market.  Long Island is shaped like a fish.

Answer: New York's Long Island, which is shaped like a fish, has a booming real estate market.

9.  The manager is from Brazil.  She is in my office.

Answers: The manager who is in my office is from Brazil.

                   The manager that is in my office is from Brazil.

10. The music is rock and roll.  I listen to the music.

Answers: The music that I listen to is rock and roll.

                   The music which I listen to is rock and roll.

                   The music I listen to is rock and roll.

  Rules to Remember! 

1

Adjective clauses are adjectives.  However, they look like sentences because they have verbs and nouns.  Adjective clauses are placed AFTER the noun they are describing.

Example:

           The music that I listen to is rock and roll.

2

When you use adjective clauses, you often need a word that connects the noun with the adjective clause.  The word acts like glue and keeps the noun and the adjective clause together.  This word is called the relative pronoun.  

When the noun is a person, use that or who.  

When the noun is a thing, use that or which.

Example:

           Cars which run on electricity are very efficient.

3

Sometimes, you donít need the RP.  A good rule to remember:  If the word after the RP is a verb, you must have the RP there.  If the word after the RP is not a verb, you probably donít need it. 

Example:  

      I just bought the book that you recommended. 

The word after the RP is you.  You is not a verb.  Therefore, the following sentence is also correct.

      I just bought the book you recommended.   

4 When the noun is a proper name (and begins with a capital letter), do NOT use that.   

Example:  

      Mount Everest, which is the highest mountain in the world, is very dangerous to climb.

5 Some adjective clauses are necessary in the sentence; some adjective clauses are not necessary, but they are used just to give extra information.   When the adjective clause is NOT necessary, use commas.  When the adjective clause IS necessary, donít use commas.   
6 In addition, when the adjective clause is not necessary at all (it just adds extra information), that is usually not used.  

Example:  

      New York's Long Island, which is shaped like a fish, has a booming real estate market.

7 Do not include the noun or use a pronoun that refers to the noun you are describing.  

Example:

       The speech was too long.  My friend gave it.

       The speech which my friend gave was too long.      (no it.)

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