Adjective Clause


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What is an Adjective Clause?

A dependent, or subordinate, clause contains a subject and a verb or verb phrase but does not express a complete thought. As a result, it cannot stand alone as a sentence. Dependent clauses can function either as a noun clause, adjective clause, or adverb clause.

An adjective clause is a dependent clause that, like an adjective, modifies a noun or pronoun. An adjective clause begin with words such as that, when, where, who, whom, whose, which, and why.

An essential (or restrictive) adjective clause provides information that is necessary for identifying the word it modifies. A nonessential (or nonrestrictive) adjective clause provides additional information about the word it modifies, but the word’s meaning is already clear. Nonessential clauses are always set off with commas.

When deciding whether to include the word that or which in an adjective clause, remember to use that for essential clauses and which for nonessential clauses:

Essential clause: (That Lucas takes is an essential adjective clause. It contains the subject Lucas and the verb takes. The clause modifies the noun class, providing necessary information about it.)

Nonessential clause: The house on the left, which belongs to Nicole, is up for sale.

(Which belongs to Nicole is a nonessential adjective clause. It contains the subject which and the verb belongs. The clause modifies the noun house, providing additional, nonessential information about it.)

Adjective Clause Examples

(That I like the best is an adjective clause. It contains the subject I and the verb like. The clause modifies the noun beach.)

Mr. Jackson is the teacher who helped me with my math problems.

(Who helped me with my math problems is an adjective clause. It contains the subject who and the verb helped. The clause modifies the noun teacher.)

The bad weather is the reason why I decided to drive instead of walk.

(Why I decided to drive instead of walk is an adjective clause. It contains the subject I and the verb decided. The clause modifies the noun reason.)

Mia is the person whose family owns a horse ranch.

(Whose family owns a horse ranch is an adjective clause. It contains the subject family and the verb owns. The clause modifies the noun person.)

This is the park where we can walk the dogs.

(Where we can walk the dogs is an adjective clause. It contains the subject we and the verb phrase can walk. The clause modifies the noun park.)

Do you remember the time when we almost missed the swim meet?

(When we almost missed the swim meet is an adjective clause. It contains the subject we and the verb missed. The clause modifies the noun time.)

Guillermo went to the studio where he takes glassblowing lessons.

(Where he takes glassblowing lessons is an adjective clause. It contains the subject he and the verb takes. The clause modifies the noun studio.)

Max, who is Marissa’s older brother, just got back from a trip to Jamaica.

(Who is Marissa’s older brother is an adjective clause. It contains the subject who and the verb is. The clause modifies the noun Max.)

Monday is the day when I have my doctor’s appointment.

(When I have my doctor’s appointment is an adjective clause. It contains the subject I and the verb have. The clause modifies the noun day.)

Derek is the sibling to whom I am closest.

(To whom I am closest is an adjective clause. It contains the subject I and the verb am. The clause modifies the noun sibling.)

An Adjective Clause contains:

(a)     Relative pronouns- who, which, that, as

(b)     Relative adverbs- when, where, how, why, as, whence.

Note :          In an adjective clause, the Relative pronouns or the Relative adverbs must have an antecedent. The antecedent is a noun or pronoun qualifying the relative pronoun or relative adverb.

Example :    a.       I have seen the boy who stood first in the examination. (Antecedent Relative pronoun)

  1. I know the time when he will come. (Antecedent Relative pronoun)

Remember that sometimes the antecedent is understood without the use of relative pronoun or relative adverb as it is in the following sentences.

  1. The book (which) he bought has been lost.
  2. I have forgotten the story (that) he told me.

Read the following sentences :

  1. We know who did it.
  2. Tell me when he will come.
  3. I know why he did not go.
  4. We know how they worked here.
  5. We saw that the man was coming.

Ask and answer:

  1. Do the above sentences have antecedents?
  2. Do they belong to the class of Adjective clause? If not, to which class do they belong?

Now change them into adjective clause:

  1. We know the man who did it.

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