Defining relative clauses in English Grammar
If I say:
"Trees are green". - I am talking about trees in general (All trees).
Question: Is this a true statement?
Answer: No, because some trees have red leaves and are not green.
In this statement the word Trees is the Subject.
"I like trees that are green". -
I am talking about only the green trees.
Note:Here the relative pronoun
(that) is helping to define the subject.
"I like trees are green". -
This has no clear meaning now because (that) has been left out.
Defining relative clauses
Note:Sometimes these are called restrictive or integrated clauses.
This is when the clause tells us what the subject is exactly.
The information provided in a defining relative clause is crucial
in understanding the meaning of the sentence.
Note also that we generally use THAT
rather than WHICH as the relative pronoun in defining
relative clauses, although WHICH (must be used rather than THAT)
in non-defining relative clauses. So:
Knives that are sharp.
This book, which I have already read.
- Pigs that can fly (All pigs that can fly,
Not just any pig but only pigs that can fly)
- People who live in Africa -
(All people who live in Africa, Only people who live in Africa)
- Things that are made of chocolate. -
- Places where it hardly ever rains.
- Is there somebody, who can explain this to me?
- Countries which Queen victoria visited.
(Sometimes which is good in defining relative clauses)
More defining relative clauses.
- I like people who are kind and considerate (WHO
tells us which people = defining.)
- I want a car that is cheap to run. (THAT
tells us about the kind of car = defining.)
- The car (that) he crashed last week
(See pronouns exeption rule above. "...that he crashed" )
Note: All of these sentences need the relative pronouns
to make the meaning clear, because the relative clause is part of the subject.
Some common defining clauses that use THAT
- All that glitters is not gold!
- anything that you say will be taken down and may
be used in evidence against you.
- everything that I have ever said is a lie!
- few that realise this are still alive today.
- The little that is known about it can be found in the library.
- Many that ate the meal later became very ill.
- Much that is known about this can be found on the internet.
- nothing that I say should be taken as gospel.
- None that I know are any better.
- something) that I said might have upset you.
What do you think?
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