Correct use of adjective clauses
An adjective clause is a type of subordinate clause which cannot be a sentence alone. Just like adjectives, adjective clauses are also used to modify nouns.
Adjective clauses are useful in a sentence. They are usually introduced by the relative pronouns who, which, that, whom and whose.
Relative pronouns are important connecting devices.
Read the sentences given below.
- I bought a watch. It was very expensive.
We can combine these two clauses using the relative pronoun which or that.
- I bought a watch which was very expensive. OR I bought a watch that was very expensive.
Note that clauses introduced by relative pronouns can also be called relative clauses.
More examples are given below.
- I enjoy reading books that inspire people. (Here the adjective clause that inspire people modifies the noun books.)
- She gave me a necklace which was very expensive. (Here the adjective clause which was very expensive modifies the noun necklace.)
- They bought us drinks which were very refreshing. (Here the adjective clause which were very refreshing modifies the noun drinks.)
- What is the name of the girl who just walked in with Rohan? (Here the adjective clause who just walked in with Rohan modifies the noun girl.)
Adjective clauses go immediately after the noun they modify.
Adjective clauses introduced by which can modify not only a noun, but also the whole of a previous clause. Adjective clauses introduced by what and that cannot do this.
Read the examples given below.
- I had lunch with Ravi, which made Shyam jealous. (= The fact that I had lunch with Ravi made Shyam jealous.)
Here the adjective clause which made Shyam jealous refers to the whole clause I had lunch with Ravi.
- I failed my exams, which upset my parents. (The exams didn't upset my parents. The fact that I failed it upset them.)
- They got divorced in less than three months, which shocked their parents. (The fact that they got divorced in less than three months shocked their parents. Here again the adjective clause which shocked their parents modifies the whole of the previous clause.)
Avoid unnecessary adjective clauses
Although adjective clauses are quite useful, they are not always necessary. For example, adjective clauses are not necessary to add information related to appearance or emotional states. You can usually express that idea using a single-word adjective.
Read the sentence given below. It contains an adjective clause.
- I saw a girl who was beautiful.
It is possible to express the same idea using a single-word adjective.
- I saw a beautiful girl.
The sentence given above is more concise and hence better than the one containing the adjective clause.
Do not write a clause if you can express the same idea using a phrase. Do not write a phrase if you can express the same idea using a word.
Another example is given below.
- I live in a city that is very crowded.
It is possible to reduce the adjective clause (that is very crowded) into a single-word adjective (crowded).
- I live in a crowded city.
Note: Adjective clauses usually go after the nouns they modify. Adjectives usually go before the nouns they modify.
- I bought a watch which was very expensive. = I bought an expensive watch.
To describe the characteristics of a noun, use a prepositional phrase (with + object) instead of an adjective clause.
- Workers who have aged parents and dependent children need life insurance.
The sentence given above contains an adjective clause (who have aged parents and dependent children). However, it is not necessary because the same idea can be expressed with a prepositional phrase.
- Workers with aged parents and dependent children need life insurance.
Now the sentence becomes more concise and better.
Another example is given below.
- I bought a clock from a dealer who has crooked hands.
The same idea can be expressed using a prepositional phrase.
- I bought a clock from a dealer with crooked hands.
- I have a dog that has two tails.
It is possible to replace the adjective clause that has two tails with a prepositional phrase with two tails.
- I have a dog with two tails.
Sections in this articleTransformation of sentences - I
Transformation of sentences - II
Transformation of a Simple sentence into a compound sentence
Transformation of a compound sentence into a simple sentence
Transformation of a simple sentence into a complex sentence
Transformation of a complex sentence into a simple sentence
Transformation of sentences containing too
Interchange of degrees of comparison
Combining two sentences using too...to and so...that
How to combine two sentences using too...to
Transformation of sentences
Common mistakes in the use of nouns
Common mistakes in the use of nouns | Exercise 1
Common mistakes in the use of nouns | Exercise 2
Common mistakes in the use of nouns | Exercise 3
More CBSE English Grammar worksheetsPassive voice worksheet | Simple past tense
Passive voice worksheet | Past continuous tense
Passive voice worksheet | Simple future tense
Passive voice worksheet | Future perfect tense