Relative Clause

Relative Clauses are group of words which are used to join sentences, identify and give more information about nouns. Generally, they are not compulsory elements in sentences. Relative Clauses are also known as Adjective and Adjectival clauses.

We also find Relative Pronouns (who, whom, that, which) in Relative Clauses. We should understand that relative clauses do not express complete thoughts. They cannot be written individually as sentences and therefore should be joined with main clauses.

There are two types of Relative Clauses. They are:

i. Defining Relative Clauses
ii. Non-defining Relative Clauses

Defining Relative Clauses

Defining Relative Clauses are also called Identifying clauses. Defining Relative Clauses are those groups of words which identify people or things in sentences. The role of Defining Relative Clause is very important in a sentence as their removal from a sentence can change the meaning.


The child who stopped the suicide bomber was very brave.
Long ago, the woman who helped me has now grown old.
The puppy which I adore is barking.
Her cat that I hate dirtied my door mat again.
The new laptop that I was using crashed.
The old teapot that my mother gave me has been sold in auction.

Non-defining Relative Clauses

Non-defining Clauses are those groups of words which provide us additional information about people or things i.e. nouns. Their role is not that important compared to that of Defining Clauses as their removal from a sentence does not change the complete meaning Non-defining clauses are put between commas in a sentence.


The dog, which is lame, fell down from balcony.
Her husband, who was ill, has recovered fully.
The place, which was beautiful, has been deserted by savage terrorists.
Their aunt, who is fat, has lost a lot of weight.
The young girl, whose mother is a model, is suffering from depression.

Patterns of Relative Clause Usage

Relative clauses always tend to follow one of the two patterns. The two patterns are:

Relative Pronoun or Adverb + Subject + Verb

Relative Pronoun(as Subject) + Verb

  • The person who you met yesterday at the party was my brother.
    Who – relative pronoun
    you – subject
    met verb
  • This is the old house where she lost her life.
    Where – relative adverb
    She – subject
  • That is the picture of a soldier who fought until he was killed by rebels.
    Who – Relative pronoun as subject
    Fought – verb
  • This is the cat which scared me in the morning.
    Which– relative pronoun as subject
    Scared– verb

Points to remember

Relative Clause can never stand alone as they are meant to be joined with main clause to give complete meaning.

Since we know when there will be two clauses in a sentence when we use Relative Clause, we should always use punctuation correctly. Incorrect use of Punctuation can give completely different meaning.