Defining relative clause

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Revision as of 16:05, 14 November 2019 by Duncan (talk | contribs) (Examples)

An identifying relative clause, also known as a defining or restrictive relative clause, is a relative clause that qualifies a noun, and tells us exactly which person or thing is being referred to - in other words, it defines that person or thing. Without them the sentences make little sense or have a rather different meaning. No commas are used.


Defining subjects:

  • "Students who/that do homework get the best results."
  • "The computer which/that we bought was very expensive."
  • "My bedroom is where sleep."
  • "The reason why I am editing Teflpedia is I have no life."
  • "I have a husband whose family hate me."
  • "And that was when I realised that I needed to get out more."

Defining objects

  • "A corkscrew is something which/that you use to open a bottle of wine."
  • "He is a friend who/whom/that I have known for a long time."


You can use that

  • Do you know anyone who/that plays rugby or cricket?
  • Judith works for a company which/that makes computer software.

You can leave out that/who/which when it is the object

  • We went to see the film (that/which) Caroline liked so much.
  • This morning I met a friend (that/who) I hadn’t seen for ages.


See also

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