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Relative clauses

  1. Relative clauses are a type of complex sentence. They are used to give additional information about an element. This information helps us to identify that element. We use relative pronouns that perform a double function: they are connectors and they are the subject or the object of one of the clases in the complex sentence.
  2. DEFINING RELATIVE CLAUSES This type of relative clause is used when the information provided is necessary to identify the antecedent to which we are referring: That’s the woman who wants to buy the car This is the desk that our teachers use I met the neighbour whose office was burnt down Thank you very much for the money that you lent my son The car in which we were didn’t have airbags
  3. WHO, WHICH (or THAT) as subjects In general, we use WHO for people and WHICH for things, animals, machines, etc. Both can be substituted by THAT: I’m looking after some children who/that are really naughty Ronald is a very quiet boy who/ that doesn’t like arguing I dislike people who/ that are always telling you what to do She was reading a book which/ that has become a best-seller They switched on the lamp which/ that was nearest to them We stayed in a room which/ that was cosy and colourful
  4. WHO(M)/WHICH/THAT as objects The relative pronoun can be the object of the sentence. In this case, it is possible to omit the relative pronoun: He introduced me to the woman who/that I would marry two years later (or “He introduced me to the woman I would …”) She is the kind of person who/ that all the people like (or “She is the kind of person all the people like) (“Whom” might also be used but it sounds very formal) A dictionary is a book which/ that you use to look words up (or “A dictionary is a book you use to …”) I bought the CD which/ that the band had recently released (or “I bought the CD the band had recently released”
  5. Relatives with prepositions When we need to use a preposition, we have two possible ways: The boy with whom I had an argument apologized afterwards The boy (who/that) I had an argument with apologized afterwards The music to which you were listening was composed by Mozart The music (which/that) you were listening to was composed by Mozart
  6. Non-defining relative clauses This type of relative clause is used when the information provided is not necessary to identify the antecedent to which we are referring. We can only use WHO/ WHICH and it is not possible to omit the relative pronoun. The relative pronous work as subjects or objects, like in defining relative clauses: President Obama, who was re-elected some weeks ago, wants to change some policies about immigration (SUBJECT) The NATO, which was created during the Cold War, has members all over the world (SUBJECT)
  7. Fernando Alonso, who(m) many people admire, has won two F-1 championships (OBJECT) Oxford University, which they are planning to enlarge, is one of the oldest in Europe (OBJECT) My cousin Frederick, with whom I share some properties in the city centre, is thinking of opening new offices abroad. (WITH PREPOSITION) Dubai’s Burj-el-Arab skyscraper, from which you can view the “Palm Tree islands”, is an astonishing building (WITH PREPOSITION) This type of relative clause (“non-defining”) is mainly used in written and/or formal English
  8. WHOSE “Whose” is used as a possessive relative. It is used to refer to people and (in informal English) to things, machines, etc. She listened to the artist whose paintings were at the exhibition Antonio Banderas, whose wife used to work in Hollywood as an actress, has become an ambassador of the Spanish culture They were demolishing some houses whose foundations had ben affected by the earthquake >Avila, whose walls are among the best touristic attractions in our region, is famous for its delicious beef meat.
  9. WHICH referring to a whole sentence “Which” can be used to refer not to just one word but to a whole idea: I like listening to loud music, which annoys my family (my family is annoyed by the fact that I like listening to loud music) Flexpetz rents dogs as pets, which some people critisize (It’s the whole idea of “renting dogs” that is critisized)
  10. WHAT, WHERE, WHEN in relative clauses In this sort of sentences, “what” means “the thing(s) that”: Do what I tell you and don’t do what I do Listen to what I have to tell you and don’t interrupt me “Where” is used to refer to places and “when” to time: She studied in the town where Shakespeare was born Strattford-Upon-Avon, where Shakespeare was born, is visited by thousands of people every year I remember the days when my father took me to school. They went to London in June 2012, when the Olympic Games were taking place.