adjective clauses

Adjective clauses
Adjective clauses
What is it?
What’s an adjective?
To understand what an adjective clause is, we need to understand what adjectives and clauses are. Most of you probably know what an adjective is. In English, adjectives are used to modify or describe nouns. For example, adjectives can show size, color, emotion, and quantity. Here are some sentences with adjectives. Can you identify them?
• Mary bought a red sweater at the department store for her mother.
• The sweater was too small.
• Mary felt veery disappointed.
• Mary’s mother received nice gifts for her birthday.

Here are the same sentences with the adjectives in red.
• Mary bought a red sweater at the department store for her mother.
• The sweater was too small.
• Mary felt very disappointed.
• Mary’s mother received nice gifts for her birthday.
Adjectives can describe a noun in two different ways. The adjective can come before the noun (a red sweater) or it can be connected to a noun with a linking verb (sweater waas small; Mary felt disappointed).
What’s a clause?
What is a clause? In English, a clause is a set of words that includes a subject and a verb. Sentences are clauses because they always have a subject and a verb. These are cl

lauses too:
• because the sweater was too small
• but she received many other gifts
• which she bought for her mother
Can you find the subjects and verbs in each? Click on the green question mark to check your answers.
Another example
Imagine that I have invited you to my home for Thanksgiving. You look around the room, and you ask me about the different people. Since there are several men and women in the room, I use adjective clauses to identify the different people.

1. The woman who is pushing the baby stroller is my sister, Karen.
2. The man who is wearing glasses is my Uncle Kenneth.
3. The woman who Karen is talking to is my cousin, Gina.
4. The man who Uncle Kenneth is talking to is my brrother, Robert.
Formation
The different kinds of adjective clauses
Before we can talk about how to make adjective clauses, let me give you some examples of the different kinds of adjective clauses. Click on the green question mark to understand the different types better.

Subject Adjective Clauses
The people who came to my party had a good time.

Object Adjective Clauses
The turkey that my father cooked was delicious.

Possessive Adjective Clauses
The woman whose baby cried during dinner was my sister, Karen.

Location Ad

djective Clauses
The house where we had the party belongs to my Uncle Kenneth.

Subject Adjective Clauses
The people who came to my party had a good time.
In a subject adjective clause, the subject of the adjective clause is the same as the noun it describes.
In the above sentence, the main sentence is: The people had a good time.
We want to use this sentence to describe the “people” in the main sentence. They came to my party. Notice that the subject of this sentence is also referring to “people.”
To create the adjective clause, we change the subject of the adjective clause. For subjects which are people, we can use who or that. The most commonly used one is that.
who came to my party.
that came to my party.
Then the adjective clause goes after the noun we are describing. The result is:
The people who came to my party had a good time.
The people that came to my party had a good time.
If the subject of the adjective clause is a thing, use which or that.
I need to wash the shirt which has a stain on the pocket.
I need to wash the shirt that has a

stain on the pocket.
Notice that the main sentence does not change word order.

In this exercise, you will combine the two sentences, changing the second sentence into a subject adjective clause.

1. The man is nervous. He is waiting for a job interview.

2. I know the man. He got the job.

3. The woman is the personnel director. She interviewed him.

4. He is going to work for a company. It is located in San Jose, California.

5. He is taking a job. It pays $40,000 a year.

1. The man that is waiting for a job interview is nervous.

2. I know the man that got the job.

3. The woman that interviewed him is the personnel director.

4. He is going to work for a company that is located in San Jose, California.

5. He is taking a job that pays $40,000 a year.

Object Adjective Clauses
The turkey that my father cooked was delicious.
In an object adjective clause, the object in the adjective clause is the same as the noun that the adjective clause describes.
In the above sentence, the main sentence is: The turkey was delicious.
We want to use this sentence to describe the “turkey” in the main sentence. My father cooked it. Notice that the object of this sentence is al

lso referring to “turkey.”
To create the adjective clause, we change the object of the adjective clause. For subjects which are things, we can use which, that or Ø, which means the word is omitted. The most commonly used one is Ø.
which my father cooked.
that my father cooked.
Ø my father cooked.
Then the adjective clause goes after the noun we are describing. The result is:
The turkey which my father cooked was delicious.
The turkey that my father cooked was delicious.
The turkey my father cooked was delicious.
If the object of the adjective clause is a person, use who, whom, that or Ø.
The people whom we invited to dinner loved the turkey.
The people who we invited to dinner loved the turkey.
The people that we invited to dinner loved the turkey.
The people we invited to dinner loved the turkey.
Notice that the main sentence does not change word order.

In this exercise, you will combine the two sentences, changing the second sentence into an object adjective clause.

1. The man is nervous. The woman is interviewing him.

2. I know the man. The company hired him.

3. The woman is the personnel director. The man talked to her.

4. He is going to work for a company. My sister used to work for it.

5. He is taking a job. Many people wanted this job.

1. The man the woman is interviewing is nervous.

2. I know the man the company hired.

3. The woman the man talked to is the personnel director.

4. He is going to work for a company my sister used to work for.

5. He is taking a job many people wanted.

Possessive Adjective Clauses
1. The woman whose baby cried during dinner was my sister, Karen.
2. The woman whose car I borrowed was my sister, Karen.
In a possessive adjective clause, the possessive in the adjective clause refers to the same noun as the adjective clause describes.
In both sentences, the main sentence is: The woman was my sister, Karen.
In the first example, we want to use this sentence to describe the “woman” in the main sentence. Her baby cried during dinner. Notice that the possessive of this sentence is also referring to the “woman.”
To create the adjective clause, we change the possessive of the adjective clause. Possessives are usually used with people, but they are also used with things such as organizations, companies, and groups. The only adjective clause pronoun for possessive adjective clauses is whose.
whose baby cried during dinner
Then the adjective clause goes after the noun we are describing. The result is:
The woman whose baby cried during dinner was my sister, Karen.
The possessive may be with the object of the adjective clause sentence. Keep the possessive and noun together. You change the possessive to whose and move the possessive and noun to the beginning of the adjective clause.
In the second example, we want to use this sentence to describe the “woman” in the main sentence. I borrowed her car.
We change the possessive to whose and move it and the noun to the beginning of the adjective clause.
whose car I borrowed
Then the adjective clause goes after the noun we are describing. The result is:
The woman whose car I borrowed was my sister, Karen.
Notice that the main sentence does not change word order.

In this exercise, you will combine the two sentences, changing the second sentence into a possessive adjective clause.

1. The man is nervous. The woman is reading his resume.

2. I know the man. His interview is tomorrow.

3. The woman is the personnel director. They are meeting in her office.

4. He is going to work for a company. Its employees are very satisfied.

5. The man is taking the job. His interview went the best.

1. The man whose resume the woman is reading is nervous.

2. I know the man whose interview is tomorrow.

3. The woman whose office they are meeting in is the personnel director.

4. He is going to work for a company whose employees are very satisfied.

5. The man whose interview went the best is taking the job.

Location and Time Adjective Clauses
1. The house where we had the party belongs to my Uncle Kenneth.
2. The house my Uncle Kenneth bought cost over $200,000.
Location adjective clauses describe a place where something happens. The place can be in a park, on the street, or even in a desk drawer. Notice that location adjective clauses involve a noun and one of the three prepositions of location in, at, or on.
Location adjective clauses are sometimes confusing. In the first sentence, something is happening at the house: a party. In the second sentence, the adjective clause describes the same house, but nothing happens at the house. In the adjective clause, “the house” is actually the object of the sentence. Instead of using where, you use the rules for object adjective clauses. Here, the adjective clauses uses Ø.
In the first sentence, we want to use this sentence to describe “the house”. We had the party at my Uncle Kenneth’s house.
To make the adjective clause, we take the location “at my Uncle Kenneth’s house” (notice the preposition at with the noun) and change it to where. Then we move “where” to the beginning of the adjective clause.
where we had the party
We put the adjective clause after the noun that we are describing. Here is the result:
The house where we had the party belongs to my Uncle Kenneth.

I remember the Thanksgiving when my Uncle Kenneth dropped the turkey on the kitchen floor.
I remember the Thanksgiving my Uncle Kenneth dropped the turkey on the kitchen floor.
Time adjective clauses are similar to location adjective clauses except that they describe when something was done instead of where. This time can be “on that Thanksgiving,” “in that year,” or “at that time.” The noun before the adjective clause is usually a general time word. Notice that time adjective clauses also involve a noun and one of the three prepositions of location in, at, or on.
One special quality of time adjective clauses is that Ø can also be used instead of “when.”
In the first sentence, we want to use this sentence to describe “the Thanksgiving”. My Uncle Kenneth dropped the turkey on the kitchen floor on that Thanksgiving.
To make the adjective clause, we take the time “on that Thanksgiving” (notice the preposition on with the noun) and change it to when. Then we move “when” to the beginning of the adjective clause.
when my Uncle Kenneth dropped the turkey on the kitchen floor
We put the adjective clause after the noun that we are describing. Here is the result:
I remember the Thanksgiving when my Uncle Kenneth dropped the turkey on the kitchen floor.
The second sentence shows the same sentence using Ø.
I remember the Thanksgiving my Uncle Kenneth dropped the turkey on the kitchen floor.

In this exercise, you will combine the two sentences, changing the second sentence into a location adjective clause.

1. I can’t find the file. I put the resumes in this file.

2. The company is near a park. The kids like to play in the park.

3. The office is on the third floor. They had the interview in the office.

4. He was also very nervous the last time. He had an interview at that time.

5. The room has a window overlooking the park. He will be working in that room.

6. The company manufactures computer printers. He is going to work at that company.

7. The park was built in the same year. The company was started in the same year

1. I can’t find the file where I put the resumes.

2. The company is near a park where the kids like to play.

3. The office where they had the interview is on the third floor.

4. He was also very nervous the last time when he had an interview.

5. The room where he will be working has a window overlooking the park.

6. The company where he is going to work manufactures computer printers.

7. The park was built in the same year when the company was started.

Prepositions and Adjective Clauses
1. The house in which we had the party belongs to my Uncle Kenneth.
2. The person to whom we gave the most attention was my niece, Robin.
Some grammar books state that a preposition cannot come at the end of a sentence. This is a formal style that is not used as much anymore. This formal rule applies not just to sentences but to adjective clauses. In the previous sections, you have seen several examples where the preposition came at the end of the adjective clause. However, you should know what to do if your boss or teacher requires you to write in this style.
Instead of just moving the object noun (it is always an object, never a subject), move the preposition that comes before the noun and the noun together. When you use this formal grammar, you can only use which for things and whom for people.
In the first example sentence, the more natural way to write the sentence would be:
The house we had the party in belongs to my Uncle Kenneth. (Notice that the sentence uses Ø.)
The formal way is to move the preposition and noun together to the beginning of the adjective clause:
in which we had the party
In the second example sentence, the more natural way to write the sentence would be:
The person we gave the most attention to was my niece, Robin. (Notice that the sentence uses Ø.)
The formal way is to move the preposition and noun together to the beginning of the adjective clause:
to whom we gave the most attention

Here are some of the same sentences that you have seen in previous exercises. You will combine the two sentences, changing the second sentence into an adjective clause that begins with a preposition.

1. The woman is the personnel director. The man talked to her.

2. He is going to work for a company. My sister used to work for it.

3. The office is on the third floor. They had the interview in the office.

4. The house belongs to my Uncle Kenneth. We had a party at his house.

5. The company is near a park. The kids like to play in the park.

1. The woman to whom the man talked is the personnel director.

2. He is going to work for a company for which my sister used to work.

3. The office in which they had the interview is on the third floor.

4. The house at which we had a party belongs to my Uncle Kenneth.

5. The company is near a park in which the kids like to play.
When to use it
When do we use adjective clauses?
Adjective clauses are often used to make clear which person or thing we are writing or talking about. For example, you have a picture of three dinosaurs. Adjective clauses can help the reader or listener know which one you are referring to when you give their names.
The dinosaur that is on the left is a brontosaurus.
The dinosaur that is in the middle is a tyranosaurus rex.
The dinosaur that is on the right is a stegasaurus.
When an adjective clause is used to tell the reader or listener “which one” or “which ones,” no commas are used. All of the examples we have seen so far are this type of adjective clause.
Here is another example. We are discussing different groups of students. The adjective clauses explain which group we are referring to.
The students who eat a good breakfast do better in class.
The students who skip breakfast cannot concentrate in class.
All the rules we have learned about adjective clauses so far are for this type of adjective clause.

When do we use commas with adjective clauses?
You will see adjective clauses that have a comma before and after (if the clause is not at the end of a sentence; then the clause ends with a period). How are these clauses different from those that we just looked at?
Adjective clauses that have commas are used with nouns that are already clear to the reader. These adjective clauses do not identify “which one” or “which ones” because the reader can already figure this out. However, the writer wants to add some more information about the noun.
Here are some examples of nouns which are already clear to a reader:
• Mrs. Smith
• His father
• Tsingtao
• the sun
We could add more information about these nouns, but the adjective clause would not change “which one” we are writing about.

• I really like Mrs. Smith, who teaches ESL 101.
• His father, whom I have known for many years, is a very honest and hardworking person.
• Tsingtao, which is a city in China that was once occupied by Germany, is famous for its beer.
• You should never stare directly at the sun, which is many times brighter than a lightbulb.
Notice that the adjective clauses in commas usually give extra information to help the reader understand why the writer makes this statement. I like Mrs. Smith because I had her for ESL 101. I can say this about his father because I have known him for a long time. The Germans brought beer to Tsingtao. The brightness of the sun is dangerous for your eyes.
In some grammar books, this type of adjective clause is called an unrestricted adjective clause or an appositive. This type of adjective clause can only use the adjective clause pronouns that begin with “wh”. That and Ø are not used with with this type of adjective clause.
Here are some sentences to compare with those above. These sentences do not use commas. Usually, adjective clauses that tell “which one” or “which ones” do not use possessive pronouns (his, her, my, etc.) before the noun.

I like the teacher who teaches ESL 101 but not the teacher who teaches ESL 102. This shows which teacher I like.
A child looks up to a father who is honest and hardworking. This adjective clause describes what kind of father is respected by a child.
The Tsingtao that is on the table is mine. Yours is on the counter. In this example, Tsingtao is referring to a bottle of beer, not the city.
The sun that was drawn by my daughter in school is hanging on my refrigerator. All the children in my daughter’s class drew pictures of the sun. I am telling you which one is on my refrigerator

When do we use adjective clauses?
Adjective clauses are not always the first choice in writing, especially if it is a subject adjective clause and the verb is be.
If the word after be is an adjective, we usually put the adjective before the noun.

A child looks up to a father who is honest and hardworking. A child looks up to an honest and hardworking father.
If the word after be is a preposition, we usually use a simple prepositional phrase (preposition + noun) to describe the noun.

The Tsingtao that is on the table is mine. Yours is on the counter. The Tsingtao on the table is mine.
If the word after be is a noun, we usually delete the adjective clause pronoun and the be verb if the adjective clause requires commas. If there are no commas, do not delete the pronoun and be verb.

Tsingtao, which is a city in China that was once occupied by Germany, is famous for its beer. Tsingtao,a city in China that was once occupied by Germany, is famous for its beer.
We also delete the adjective clause pronoun and the be verb when the adjective clause uses the passive voice.

The sun that was drawn by my daughter in school is hanging on my refrigerator. The sun drawn by my daughter in school is hanging on my refrigerator.

Look at the following sentences. They all have adjective clauses. Decide if you need to add commas before and after the adjective clause. Instead of an adjective clause, is there another way to write the sentence?

1. The boy who was hit by a car had to be taken to a nearby hospital.

2. Roger Nguyen who is the head of personnel will be on vacation next week.

3. The milk which is in the refrigerator has turned sour.

4. San Francisco which thousands of tourists visit every year is the number one tourist city in the United States.

5. My father who was hired by the company in 1965 retired yesterday at the age of 67.

6. The girl whose ball got stuck in a tree cried until her mother helped her get it down.

7. Patricia Kerman who is an English teacher at San Mateo College is our guest speaker this evening.

8. A new apartment building is going to be built on the empty lot which is around the corner from my house.

9. I took this photograph in which you can see both of my parents and my grandmother at the Grand Canyon last summer.

10. Mary doesn’t like to go to places where they play loud music and people smoke a lot.

1. The boy who was hit by a car had to be taken to a nearby hospital.

2. Roger Nguyen, who is the head of personnel, will be on vacation next week.

3. The milk which is in the refrigerator has turned sour.

4. San Francisco, which thousands of tourists visit every year, is the number one tourist city in the United States.

5. My father, who was hired by the company in 1965, retired yesterday at the age of 67.

6. The girl whose ball got stuck in a tree cried until her mother helped her get it down.

7. Patricia Kerman, who is an English teacher at San Mateo College, is our guest speaker this evening.

8. A new apartment building is going to be built on the empty lot which is around the corner from my house.

9. I took this photograph, in which you can see both of my parents and my grandmother, at the Grand Canyon last summer.

10. Mary doesn’t like to go to places where they play loud music and people smoke a lot.

Defining / Non-defining Adjective Clauses

Relative Clauses – Part 1
There are two types of relative clauses using reflexive pronouns.
Non-Restrictive Clauses (Non-Defining Clauses)
For People
The President of the United States, who is visiting Moscow, claimed that relations between the two countries were at their best for twenty years.
NB – you cannot use that here (after a comma).
For Things
The intermission, which lasts for fifteen minutes, comes halfway through the film.
Notes about Non-Restrictive Clauses (Non-Defining Clauses)
In this type of relative clause, the information is not essential; it could be deleted without making the sentence ungrammatical and it would still be clear who or what we are talking about.
Restrictive Clauses (Defining Clauses)
For People
The man that stole my car was fined. (this is used in American and British English)
The man who stole my car was fined. (this is used in British English)
For Things
The company which made it has gone bankrupt.
The company that made it has gone bankrupt.
Notes about Restrictive Clauses (Defining Clauses)
In this type of relative clause, the information is essential; if it is deleted,then the sentence will no longer make sense as we will not understand who or what is being talked about.

Relative Clauses – Part 2
Showing Possession
To show possession, we use whose for both people and things:
The man whose car was stolen wasn’t insured.
The house whose basement was flooded is being repaired.
Omitting the Relative Pronoun in Restrictive Clauses
In the following examples, the man is the subject of both verbs and cannot be omitted:
The man who told me is coming later.
The man that told me is coming later.
In the following examples, the woman is the object of the verb ‘saw’ and, therefore the pronoun can be omitted:
The woman who I saw is coming later.
The woman whom I saw is coming later.
The woman that I saw is coming later.
The woman I saw is coming later.
NB – WHOM is an object pronoun. It is used in formal English after a preposition and can be used to replace an object,although many no longer do this. In a phrase like ‘To whom it may concern’, who would not be acceptable.

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