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Welcome to this week's writing lesson from

 MyEnglishTeacher.net

Whose Line Is It? 

Lesson Topic:
Using "Whose" in Adjective Clauses

Although it is not necessary, we still recommend that you review our previous lessons on adjective clauses.  Click here for lesson 1 covering "that," "which," and "who."   Click here for lesson 2 covering "where" and "when."

Take a look at these sentences:
We visited a museum.  Its art collection is valued at •300 billion.  

In the second sentence above, what does its mean?  What does its refer to?  Its, of course, refers to the museum.  In the above situation, its means the museum's.  To combine these sentences, you can simply remove the Its and replace it with whose.  

We visited a museum whose art collection is valued at •300 billion.  

You may be asking yourself: "What is an adjective clause?"  We will reprint part of our first lesson here.

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.  

 

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So, let's combine these two sentences: 

Mr. Tubman is a great mechanic.  He can fix anything.

Look at the second sentence.  Ask yourself: "What is the second sentence describing?"  The answer is Mr. Tubman.

The rule is this:

In adjective clauses, remove the word that means or refers to what it is describing.  

Because the second sentence DESCRIBES Mr. Tubman, ask yourself again: "In the second sentence, is there any word that means or refers to Mr. Tubman?"  Yes, the word he; he refers to Mr. Tubman.  According to the rule above, we must remove he.

Here is a step-by-step procedure to correctly use adjective clauses according to the above rules.

The original sentences are Mr. Tubman is a great mechanic.  He can fix anything.

Step Reason Sentences
1 The second sentence describes which word?  Mr. Tubman.  Put the second sentence after Mr. Tubman.  Mr. Tubman he can fix anything is a great mechanic.
2 In the adjective clause (the red), is there any word that means or refers to Mr. Tubman?  Yes, he.  Remove he. Mr. Tubman can fix anything is a great mechanic.
3 We need a word to connect Mr. Tubman and the adjective clause.  Mr. Tubman is a person, so use who. Mr. Tubman who can fix anything is a great mechanic.
4 Because this adjective clause is not necessary (but rather just adds information), use commas. Mr. Tubman, who can fix anything, is a great mechanic.

Now, here's the important thing about whose.  In step 2 above, we removed any word that meant or referred to Mr. Tubman.  If the word you remove is a possessive adjective (my, your, his, her, our, their, or its) or a word with a possessive s (Tom's car), use whose with the adjective clause.

Actually, this is very easy because whose can be used with people, places, or things.  Let's do another example for you.

The sentences we will use are 

I live in a hotel.  Its rooms have air conditioners and large TVs.  

Now let's do it step-by-step.  
Step Reason Sentences
1 The second sentence describes which word?  Hotel.  Put the second sentence after hotel. I live in a hotel its rooms have air conditioners and large TVs.
2 In the adjective clause (the red), is there any word that means or refers to hotel?  Yes, its.  Remove its. I live in a hotel  rooms have air conditioners and large TVs.
3 We removed a possessive adjective (its).  Therefore, use whose. I live in a hotel whose rooms have air conditioners and large TVs.

These rules apply to people, places, and things when using whose and adjective clauses.

Be careful!  Whose and who's are completely different.  They are not interchangeable. 

 

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Quiz time

Directions: Read the sentences.  Use the red sentences to make adjective clauses for the blue sentences.  Be careful!  Not all of these adjective clauses use whose

1.  My brother makes a lot of money.  My brother's company has branches in 42 countries.

2.  Titanic was a great movie.  Titanic's budget was over $200 million.

3.  I visited a country.  The country's people love to go hiking.

4.  The doctor was very kind.  His moustache is very bushy.

5.  I love a clothes store. Its selection is the biggest in town. 

6.  The teacher really helped me.  He is standing there.

7.  Tina is a dancer.  She is also a seamstress that makes her own costumes.

8.   A friend fixed my computer.  The friend's family owns an electronics store.

9.  She just came back from an art exhibition.  The art exhibition's variety of paintings was terrific.   

10.  I work for a woman.  The woman's annual salary exceeds $1,000,000.

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Answer are in blue.

1.  My brother makes a lot of money.  My brother's company has branches in 42 countries.

     Answer: My brother, whose company has branches in 42 countries, makes a lot of money.

2.  Titanic was a great movie.  Titanic's budget was over $200 million.

     Answer: Titanic, whose budget was over $200 million, was a great movie.

3.  I visited a country.  The country's people love to go hiking.

     Answer: I visited a country whose people love to go hiking.

4.  The doctor was very kind.  His moustache is very bushy.

     Answer: The doctor whose moustache is very bushy was very kind.

5.  I love a clothes store. Its selection is the biggest in town. 

     Answer: I love a clothes store whose selection is the biggest in town.

6.  The teacher really helped me.  He is standing there.

     Answer: The teacher who is standing there really helped me.

     Comment: Which word did we remove?  He. Is he a possessive adjective?  No.  This sentence requires who, not whose.  Additionally, in spoken English, the who is in this sentence can be made into a contraction: who's (The teacher who's standing there really helped me).  Who's and whose have the same pronunciation.  However, they should not confuse you.  They do not have the same meaning.  They are not interchangeable.  

7.  Tina is a dancer.  She is also a seamstress that makes her own costumes.

     Answer: Tina, who is also a seamstress that makes her own costumes, is a dancer.

     Comment: This one is similar to number 6.

8.   A friend fixed my computer.  The friend's family owns an electronics store.

     Answer: A friend whose family owns an electronics store fixed my computer.

9.  She just came back from an art exhibition.  The art exhibition's variety of paintings was terrific.   

     Answer: She just came back from an art exhibition whose variety of paintings was terrific.

10.  I work for a woman.  The woman's annual salary exceeds $1,000,000.

     Answer: I work for a woman whose annual salary exceeds $1,000,000.

 

  Rules to Remember!

1

Follow the procedures to determine if you need to use whose in the adjective clause:

  1. Which word does the adjective clause describe?  Put the adjective clause after it.
  2. Is there any word in the adjective clause that means the word it describes?  Take it out.
  3. If the word you take out is a possessive adjective (my, your, his, her, our, their, its) or a name with a possessive s, use whose.
2 Don't confuse whose with who is.  They are completely different.
3

We suggest that you study our other lessons on adjective clauses:

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