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Adjective Clauses

What is an Adjective Clause?
An adjective clause is a dependent clause that contains a subject and a verb. It describes, identifies, or gives further information about a noun. 

Adjective Clauses are introduced by the following words:  who, whom, whose, which, that, where, or when.

Clause Marker

Use

Example

Who

People

The tribes who lived in the Great Plains used smoke signals.

 

(subject)

 

Whom

People

The woman whom we met was called Lightning Cloud.

 

(object)

 

Whose

People/Things

I know the man whose bicycle was stolen.

 

(possessive)

 

Which

Things

That is a story which interests me. (subject)

 

(subject/object)

The drumbeats which we heard sent a message. (object)

That

People/Things

The Apache is a tribe that lives in Arizona. (subject)

 

(subject/object)

The smoke that you see is from the hills. (object)

Where

Place

That is the valley where the tribe lived.

 

(adverb)

 

When

Time

This is the day when we get the signal.

 

(adverb)

 

Prepositions that Come before Adjective Clauses

Sometimes the verb in an adjective clause must have a preposition used with it (a multiword verb).  In this case, the last word of the sentence may be a preposition. In spoken English, this is fine. However, in formal written English, the preposition is usually moved to the beginning of the clause.

Omission of the Relative Pronoun

Sometimes the relative pronoun may be omitted from an adjective clause.  The relative pronouns which, that, who, and whom can be omitted when they are the object of the adjective clause.

When the relative pronoun is the subject of the relative clause, it cannot be omitted.

Reduced Adjective Clauses

Adjective clauses can be reduced to phrases. An adjective phrase does not contain either a subject or a verb, and it modifies a noun. Also, only adjective clauses that have a subject pronoun – who, which, or that – can be reduced.  There are two ways to reduce an adjective clause:

1. The subject pronoun and the be form of the verb are omitted. 2. When there is no form of be in the adjective clause, you may omit the subject pronoun and change the verb to the “–ing” form.
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