Relative Clauses

A clause is a grammatical unit containing a subject and a predicate. Every sentence, therefore, contains at least one clause, but it may contain more.

A relative clause relates one clause to a particular word in another clause. A relative clause normally begins with a relative pronoun: who or whom, which, or that.

Relative clauses can be either restrictive or nonrestrictive.

A restrictive clause restricts the reference of the term it modifies (a clause).

Example:

The Japanese who eat lots of fish have fewer heart attacks.

The subordinate clause restricts the reference of the term "Japanese" to a certain subclass of the Japanese people: those who eat lots of fish. As a result, we are making a single statement about that subclass, and we are not making any statement about the Japanese people as a whole.

A nonrestrictive clause doesn't restrict that term's reference.

Example:

The Japanese, who eat lots of fish, have fewer heart attacks.

This proposition asserts that the Japanese have fewer heart attacks and that they eat lots of fish. It makes two statements about the Japanese people as a whole.


Comprehension Questions
1 Determine whether the relative clause in the sentence below is restrictive or nonrestrictive.

Spiders that are poisonous are the black widow and the brown recluse.

a) The relative clause is restrictive.
b) The relative caluse is nonrestrictive.
2 Determine whether the relative clause in the sentence below is restrictive or nonrestrictive.

Snakes, which are reptiles without legs, kill large number of rodents.

a) The relative clause is restrictive.
b) The relative caluse is nonrestrictive.
3 Determine whether the relative clause in the sentence below is restrictive or nonrestrictive.

Neurotoxins are venoms that attack nervous tissue.

a) The relative clause is restrictive.
b) The relative caluse is nonrestrictive.

Noun Clauses

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