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My grandfather, who is 87, goes swimming every day.

who is 87 is a non-defining relative clause. It adds extra information to the sentence. Non-defining relative
clauses are more often used in written English than in spoken English. We use commas to separate non-defining
relative clauses from the rest of the sentence.

Non-defining relative clauses can use most relative pronouns (which, whose, etc,) but they CANT use that and
the relative pronoun can never be omitted.


I talked to the man who gave you the present.

I gave you the letter which came this morning

They give us essential information about the noun they describe.

a. Defining relative clauses with who, that and which

We use WHO for people and WHICH for things.

I talked to the man who gave you the present.

I gave you the letter which came this morning

We can also use "THAT" instead of who or which in defining relative clauses. It is more informal.

I talked to the man that gave you the present.

I gave you the letter that came this morning

It is also sometimes possible to omit the relative pronoun.

This is the skirt that I bought in the sales.

This is the skirt which I bought in the sales.
This is the skirt I bought in the sales.

In this sentence skirt is the object of the verb (buy). I is the subject. When the relative pronoun is the object, it can
be omitted. The film we saw last week was awful.

b. Defining relative clauses with Whose,Where,When and Why/That

WHOSE is used to talk about possession and it substitutes the possessive adjectives (his,her, my...)

I saw a girl . Her beauty took my breath away

I saw a girl whose beauty took my breath away

They are the students. Their teacher is in hospital with a broken leg
They are the students whose teacher is in hospital with a broken leg

WHERE, referring to a place, WHY, referring to a reason, and WHEN, referring to a time, can be used instead of a
relative pronoun after a noun.

In defining relative clauses why and when can be omitted

I'd like to know the reason (why) he decided not to come.

February is the month (when) many of my colleagues take skiing holidays.
BUT! She always had wanted to go to a place where she could speak her native tongue.

c. Relative clauses with prepositions + Which and Whom

There are two ways to form a relative clause when the verb in the relative clause is followed by a preposition

This is the book for which I was looking (formal)

This is the book which I was looking for/ This is the book I was looking for ( informal)

The girl at whom I was looking was very pretty(formal )

The girl who I was looking at was very pretty/ The girl I was looking at was very pretty( informal)


1.Choose the correct relative pronoun or relative adverb.

1. The woman.. is sitting at the desk is Mr Winter's secretary.

2. I cannot remember the reason . he wanted us to leave.
3. Jane, . mother is a physician, is very good at biology.
4. She didnt see the snake .. was lying on the ground.
5. Do you know the shop .. Andrew picked me up?

2.Combine the sentences with relative clauses. (Decide whether to use commas or not.)
1. A monk is a man. The man has devoted his life to God.
A monk _________________________________________________
2. I have one black cat. His name is Blacky.
I have one black cat____________________________________________
3. A herbivore is an animal. The animal feeds upon vegetation.
A herbivore________________________________________________
4. Carol plays the piano brilliantly. She is only 9 years old.
5. Sydney is the largest Australian city. It is not the capital of Australia.

3. Combine the sentences using the formal and informal structure.

1. We ordered a book. It was very expensive.
2. You are sitting on a bench. The paint on the bench is still wet.
3. The photographer could not develop the pictures. I had taken them in Australia.
4. One of the bins smells awful. You havent emptied the bin for 3 weeks.
5. They are singing a song. I dont know the song.
4.Combine the sentences with defining or non defining relative clauses.
1.The city seems to be abandoned. It is usually crowded

2. You made an offer. We cannot accept it.

3.A midwife is a woman. She assists other women in childbirth.
4.Three youngsters were arrested by the police. They had committed criminal offences.
5.The World Wide Web has become an essential part of our lives. It was invented by Tim Berners-Lee.