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Adjective Clauses

who whom which that whose when where

We use adjective clauses also called relative clauses to identify or give additional information about nouns (people, places, or things)

Who and Whom are used only for people. Who is the subject of the clause. After who you should see a verb Whom is the object of the clause. After whom you should see a subject (noun or pronoun)

Sentences with adjective clauses can be seen as combination of two sentences. I have a friend. + She loves to shop I have a friend who loves to shop.


The man is playing baseball. The man is holding a bat. The man who is holding the bat is playing baseball

I see the doctor in the room. The doctor is my father. The doctor whom you see in the room is my father.

Which is used only for things which can be both subject and object of the clause.

The telephone is in your room. The telephone is ringing. The telephone which is in your room is ringing.

That is used for both people and things. (less formal than whom and which) That can be both subject and object of the clause.

I see the flowers. The flowers are in the pond The flowers that you see are in the pond. I see the flowers that are in the pond.

Whose is the possessive and is used for both people and things and must be followed by a noun. Whose + noun can be subject or object I heard the scientist whose work is attracting interest. I met the scientist whose work I admire.


The girl is crying. Her cat is sick. The girl whose cat is sick is crying.

The verb in the adjective clause is singular if the subject relative clause refers to a singular noun. It is plural if it refers to a plural noun. Ben is my friend who lives in Boston. John and Alex are my friends who live in Boston.

The boy is my friend. He lives down the street. Two news articles were written by my science professor. They appeared in the latest edition of Nova. The Japanese food is sashimi. Keith likes it best.

The boy who lives down the street is my friend.

Two news articles which appeared in the latest edition of Nova were written by my science professor. The Japanese food that Keith likes best is sashimi.

The people are very interesting. Maria works for them.

The TV newscaster is on channel 7. I trust her opinions most.

The people whom Maria works for are very interesting.

The TV newscaster whose opinions I trust most is on channel 7.

Who whom which that (0) can be the object of the preposition in its clause. If the preposition is at the beginning of the clause, whom or which must be used

In formal English we put the preposition at the beginning of the clause. Also, we use only whom not who or that to refer to people, and which not that to refer to things. Hes the writer who I work for. Hes the writer for whom I work. Thats the book that I told you about. Thats the book______________

She is a scientist. We agree with her. She is a scientist whom we agree with. She is a scientist with whom we agree. She has developed a theory which/that (0) we are interested in. She has developed a theory in which we are interested.

Where modifies the noun place (country, city, building, house, room, street, and so on) I want to know the name of the city where you were born

When modifies the noun time ( century, year, day, night,) Your friend wants to know when you were born.

Adjective Clauses come in two types: restrictive and nonrestrictive

Restrictive adjective clauses identify the noun or pronoun modified. They give information needed in order to know who or what the pronoun refers to.

My sister who lives in California is a doctor. The car that has broken headlights belongs to my brother.

Nonrestrictive adjective clauses give extra information about the noun or the pronoun but is not needed to identify it.

My sister, who lives in California, is a doctor.

The Eiffel Tower has an elevator, which I rode to the top.

Nonrestrictive adjective clauses

Use who, which, whom, whose, Where, when

In nonrestrictive adjective clauses Do not use the relative pronoun THAT Do not omit the object relative pronoun Always put commas around a nonrestrictive clause

Adjective phrases

do not have a subject and do not have a verb. They can only be formed from clauses with subject relative pronouns.

To change an adjective clause with be to an adjective phrase, delete the subject relative pronoun and the form of be

The book which is written in Spanish is difficult. The book written in Spanish is difficult. Any students who are in this class can learn to speak English. Any students in this class can learn to speak English.

To form an adjective phrase with a verb other than Be, delete the subject relative pronoun and change the verb to its present participle (-ing) form

People who live in big cities often see new movies.

People living in big cities often see new movies

If an adjective clause is restrictive the adjective phrase is restrictive.

If an adjective clause is nonrestrictive, the adjective phrase is nonrestrictive

The End!