• Relative Clauses
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  • 30.06.2020
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  • Englisch
  • B2
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Re­la­ti­ve clau­ses

... are sub­or­di­na­te clau­ses that pro­vi­de ad­di­ti­o­nal in­for­ma­ti­on about a noun. They are added to a main clau­se (noun phra­se) but are non-​essential parts of a sen­tence. Re­la­ti­ve clau­ses add me­a­ning, but if they are re­mo­ved, the sen­tence will still func­tion gram­ma­ti­cal­ly. They can­not stand on their own and are in­tro­du­ced by re­la­ti­ve pro­nouns. There are two main types of re­la­ti­ve clau­ses, de­fi­ning and non-​defining.

De­fi­ning (rest­ric­ti­ve) re­la­ti­ve clau­se

This type of re­la­ti­ve clau­se is an in­te­gral part of the messa­ge con­vey­ed by the main clau­se. The in­for­ma­ti­on pro­vi­ded in a de­fi­ning re­la­ti­ve clau­se is necess­a­ry for com­ple­te iden­ti­fi­ca­ti­on of the noun or thing in a spe­ci­fic con­text. The clau­se is not se­pa­ra­ted from the rest of the sen­tence by com­mas be­cau­se, if this type of clau­se is re­mo­ved, the noun phra­se would eit­her make no sense or would have a dif­fe­rent me­a­ning.

The next book that I want to read is The Life List.

The rest­ric­ti­ve clau­se ex­em­pli­fied above forms part of the de­scrip­ti­on or cir­cum­s­tances of the book being re­fer­red to.

Non-​defining (non-​restrictive) re­la­ti­ve clau­se

The in­for­ma­ti­on a non-​defining re­la­ti­ve clau­se ex­pres­ses is pre­sen­ted as se­pe­ra­te and se­con­da­ry to that in the main clau­se. It gives us more in­for­ma­ti­on about a per­son or thing that has al­re­a­dy been iden­ti­fied or de­fi­ned. If this type of re­la­ti­ve clau­se is re­mo­ved from the sen­tence, we lose some de­tails, but the over­all me­a­ning of the sen­tence re­mains the same. They are set off from the rest of the sen­tence with com­mas.

My uncle, who is an ex­cel­lent cook, is thin­king of ope­ning a re­stau­rant.

"My uncle” is al­re­a­dy a cle­ar­ly de­fi­ned noun, so the non-​restrictive re­la­ti­ve clau­se above sim­ply gives extra in­for­ma­ti­on about his com­pe­ten­ces, ra­ther than de­fi­ning him.

Shor­te­ning re­la­ti­ve clau­ses

Sub­ject pro­noun

Ob­ject pro­noun

If the verb is placed after the re­la­ti­ve pro­noun, the re­la­ti­ve pro­noun is a sub­ject pro­noun.

- necess­a­ry, can­not be omit­ted

E.g I told you about the woman who lives next door.

- can be re­placed by a parti­ciple

E.g. I told you about the woman li­ving next door.

If the verb is not placed after the re­la­ti­ve pro­noun, the re­la­ti­ve pro­noun is an ob­ject pro­noun.

- can be omit­ted (only in de­fi­ning/rest­ric­ti­ve re­la­ti­ve clau­ses)

E.g. This is the bike (which) I bought yes­ter­day.

It's your turn! Build re­la­ti­ve clau­ses. Do you need com­mas? Can you leave out the pro­noun?

a) The woman is in the gar­den. She is wea­ring old dirty clo­thes.


b) Mrs Weber is a maths teacher. Her fa­vo­ri­te topic is al­ge­bra.


c) The man works in the shop. He lives next door.


d) My bag has red and white stri­pes. It is quite heavy.


Game: Py­ra­mid


To pre­pa­re, crea­te a list of ca­te­go­ries for which you can come up with 5 ex­amp­les. For ex­amp­le Things in your fridge (milk, meat, eggs, but­ter, cu­cum­ber) or Pro­fes­sions (ba­by­sit­ter, de­tec­ti­ve, fire figh­ter, hair dresser, gar­de­ner). Gather those ca­te­go­ries in a chart with their ex­amp­les be­ne­ath. Then print out the chart, cut each ex­amp­le and collect the snip­pets, ca­te­go­ri­zed and fol­ded, in dif­fe­rent boxes.

Pre­pa­re a slide (Power Point) or a big pos­ter, on which the ca­te­go­ries (but not the ex­amp­les) can be seen from the class. To give me­a­ning to the name of the game you can ar­ran­ge the ca­te­go­ries in the shape of a py­ra­mid.

To Play

Se­pe­ra­te your class into 2 dif­fe­rent teams (Team A & Team B). Set up the pos­ter or the slide. Team A starts by choo­sing the first clue giver, the rest of the team are the gues­sers. The clue giver choo­ses a ca­te­go­ry from the slide or the pos­ter and picks one snip­pet out of the cor­re­spon­ding box. By using re­la­ti­ve clau­ses, the clue giver has to ex­plain the ex­amp­le on the snip­pet to his/her team­ma­tes, the gues­sers. If so­me­o­ne of the gues­sers has an idea of what the clue giver is tal­king about, they shout out the guess. If the guess is right, the whole team gets one point. If not, they are al­lo­wed to get more hints and make 3 more gues­ses. If Team A has gues­sed the so­lu­ti­on or al­re­a­dy made 4 gues­ses, it’s Team B’s turn. The first team which has 7 points wins.

Have fun!