Relative Clause Examples in English Grammar

Suppose you want to ask your mother to make a dish that she made earlier on a special day for you. Sounds a little complicated, right? Let’s see, you will simply start by asking your mother to make a dish. But how will she know about that particular one you are talking about? Here is when the Relative Clauses come to your aid. You will add the extra information that will help her distinguish the dish you are talking about from all the other ones. So, you will say,

  • Mom, can you please make the same dish which you made for my birthday.

The highlighted part here is your Relative Clause. While describing or talking about a particular thing, person, place or animal, we add some extra information to our sentences. It can be essential or just for knowledge of the receiver or reader. These descriptive parts of sentences are known as Relative Clauses. Moreover, to connect this Relative Clause and make a meaningful sentence, we use Relative Pronouns or Relative Adverbs. Let us read about them first.

To attach a relative clause to the sentence, we use a relative pronoun or relative adverb before it. They work as an introduction to the Relative Clauses. And these clauses further describe the noun that has been referred to. Having said that, check the chart below to understand better.

Use in Relative Clauses
Relative Pronouns Who  Referring to a group of or individual person
Which Thing, place, animal
Whose Person, animal, things
Whom Person
That Thing, place, person, animal
Relative Adverbs When Time, time-period
Where Place
Why reason

What are Relative Clauses?

Relative clause is a dependent sub-ordinate clause which starts with a relative pronoun. They play a significant role in any sentence by adding extra detail while talking about a noun.

However, we need to keep in mind certain rules while using a Relative Clause in our sentences, like adding commas in accurate places, using the appropriate relative pronouns, placing the relative clause correctly, etc. These rules ensure we make meaningful sentences. Let us study these rules in detail.

  1. The Relative Pronoun is the object: At times, the relative pronoun acts as the object in a sentence. Here, we get the option to omit it from the sentence if we want to. For example-
    • She opened the notebook (which/that) I brought for her.
  2. Defining Relative Clauses: Relative clauses, generally, are of two types. The Defining type of relative clause gives us some essential information about the noun that we are talking about. This clause cannot be omitted and is not enclosed with commas within the sentence.
    • The woman who took care of me in the hospital was very kind.
  3. Non-Defining Relative Clauses: As opposite to the above type, the Non-Defining Relative Clauses tell us some unimportant information about the noun. This information can be omitted and needs to be introduced or enclosed with commas.
    • The gardener, who lives in the countryside, works for us.

Practice Time! Here is a list of sentences with various types of relative clauses. Read them out loud and understand the difference between them. This will help you become an expert while writing and using a Relative Clause.

 Examples of Relative Clause

  • I discussed my doubts with the teacher who came to class yesterday.
  • You can do some meditation, which helps in improving focus.
  • Mike brought his new pet monkey, which was very destructive and mischievous, to the party.
  • That umbrella that I bought last week is already broken.
  • The book, which she wrote in ten years, was not a hit.
  • Ray brought a watch for my birthday, which he picked out himself.
  • Kara, who is a professor at the university, was invited to speak about environmental issues.
  • This house belongs to the lady who lives with her grandchildren.
  • Please pick the dress that I sent for alter on your way back home.
  • Children who do not like vegetables are very common these days.
  • Complete the homework which your teacher gave you before going to play outside.
  • The groceries that I ordered got delivered a day before expected.
  • Ava has something to tell you, that you might not be knowing.
  • The bike that he used to ride was not his.

Identifying a Relative Clause

Now that we know all the rules and functions, how will we identify a relative clause? Well, it has a very simple composition:

Relative Pronoun or Adverb + Subject + Verb = Relative Clause


Relative Pronoun as Subject + Verb = Relative Clause

Quick Links

  1. Examples of Restrictive and Nonrestrictive Clauses
  2. Examples Of Dependent and Independent Clauses