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Learn English Grammar: The Adjective Clause (Relative Clause)

Hi. Welcome back
to I’m Adam. In today’s lesson we’re going to
look at the adjective clause. Now, this is a dependent clause, and if you’re
not sure what the difference between dependent or independent clause, you can check out my
video about the independent clause and my introduction video to
dependent clauses. In this lesson we’re going to dive a little
bit deeper into this particular dependent clause, the adjective clause. Now, some of you
will have grammar… Different grammar books, and some of you
will see this called the relative clause. Relative clause, adjective
clause, same thing. Different books like to call
them different things. Okay? So we’re going to look at this. Now, the first thing to remember about an
adjective clause before we look at the actual structure of it, the full clause
is essentially an adjective. Although it’s a clause, means it has a subject,
and a verb, and maybe some modifiers – the whole piece, the whole clause
together works like an adjective. So, because it works like an
adjective: What does that mean? It means that it’s giving you some information
about a noun somewhere in the sentence. You could have many nouns in a sentence, you
could have many adjective clauses in a sentence. There’s no limit to how many you can have,
although try not to have too many in one sentence because the sentence becomes very
bulky, not a very good sentence. So let’s get right into it. First of all, we have two
types of adjective clause. We have a defining adjective clause, which
means that it’s basically pointing to the noun and telling you something
necessary about the noun. Without the adjective clause,
the noun is incomplete. I don’t know what it is, I don’t
know what it’s doing, etc. The second adjective clause is the modifying,
means it is not necessary but we put it in to give a little bit of extra
information about the noun. Okay? So it’s like an adjective that just gives you
a little bit more description about the noun. Two things to remember:
The defining noun. Now, one of the biggest questions about adjective
clauses is: Do I use a comma or do I not use a comma? For defining adjective
clauses, no comma. For modifying, like the extra information,
the ones that you could actually take out and the sentence is still
okay, use a comma. We’re going to look at examples
and understand this more. Now, another thing to know about adjective
clauses: They all begin with a relative pronoun. Okay? A relative pronoun. This is basically the
conjunction of the clause. It is what begins the clause. Now, some of these can be also the subject of
the clause, which means it will agree with the verb; some of them cannot. So these three… Whoa, sorry. “That”, “which”, and “who” can be
both the conjunction and the subject. These ones: “whom”, “whose”, “when”, “where”,
and “why” cannot be the subject of the clause; only the relative pronoun, only
the conjunction of the clause. Now, in many cases, “that” can also be removed,
but we’re going to look at that separately. So, let’s look at some
examples to get an idea. “The man lives next door.” So here we have an
independent clause. Independent clause means it’s a complete idea,
it stands by itself as a sentence, it doesn’t really need anything else. But the problem is “the man”. Which man? That man, that man, the
man across the street? I don’t know. So this sentence, although it’s grammatically
complete, is technically, in terms of meaning, incomplete because I don’t
know who this man is. I need to identify him. So you can think of
defining or identifying. Okay? I want to point specifically
to one man because I have “the man”. I’m looking at
somebody specific. So here’s one way we can do it: “The man
who lives next door”-“who lives next door” -“is a doctor”. Okay? So, again, I still have my independent clause: “The
man is a doctor”, but now I have my adjective, my identifying adjective clause
telling me who the man is. Now, because I need this, I need this clause
to identify, to define this man amongst all the possible men, then there’s
no comma here if you’ll notice. And “who” is also the
subject of the clause. Subject: “who”, “lives” verb. Now, before I continue: What’s the
difference between “who” and “whom”? “Who” can be a subject,
“whom” can only be an object. So you can never use
“whom” with a verb. If you see “whom” beginning an adjective clause,
there must be a separate subject in that clause, otherwise you’re using
it incorrectly. Okay? Same with these: “whose”, “when”, “where”,
and “why” all must have a separate subject to go with the verb
in the clause. So now, I’ve identified the man, now I have
a complete sentence with complete meaning. I can go on to my next sentence. Let’s look at this example: “Dr. Smith, who
lives next door, is a retired surgeon.” Now, here you’ll notice… Well, let me go back
to my red pen, here. Here you’ll notice I have
a comma and a comma. What does this mean? It means that “who lives next
door” is just extra information. I can take it out. “Dr. Smith is a
retired surgeon.” Here’s my independent clause. Complete, doesn’t need
any more information. This is a choice. I want to give you a little bit of
information, tell you where he lives. Now, you’re thinking: “Well, why
don’t I need to identify him?” Because this is a proper name. Dr. Smith, I’ve already identified
him by saying who, Dr. Smith. That’s the person, that’s his
name, that’s his honorific. He’s a doctor, Smith. There’s not that many Dr. Smiths around
here anyway, so we already know who he is. I don’t need to identify him,
so this is extra information. Okay? Now, you can use all of these
with a comma or without a comma. You can use all the conjunctions, all the
relative pronouns I should say more correctly, you can use all of them in both
identifying and non-identifying. We’re just modifying uses. By the way, “modifying”, just
in case, means to change. So when you modify something, basically you’re
changing the meaning of it because you’re giving more information, you’re giving a more
complete meaning so you’re slightly changing it. So, for example, if I say: “The car”,
well, it could be any car, but if I say: “The red car”, then I’m specifically pointing to one and
I’ve changed the meaning of the word “car” because I’ve made it only one specific
car, so I’ve modified the noun. Okay? We’re going to look at some
more examples and you’ll see… But before that, actually, “that” and
“which” we use when we’re talking out… When the noun is a thing. Okay? You could use “that”
for people, but why? You have “who” or “whom”. If you have “who”, use “who”; if you
have “that”, use “that” for things. That way you don’t confuse yourself,
less chance to make a mistake. One of the problems with this
word: “whose”, everybody… Or not everybody,
but many people… I shouldn’t say that, sorry. “Who”, this word has nothing to do with
“who”, has nothing to do with person only. “Whose” means possession. Okay? It doesn’t have to
be about a person. A thing can possess something. The car whose front door… Left door is scratched is going
to be repaired next week. “Whose” means the door
belongs to the car. The car is a thing, but I
can still use “whose”. So don’t confuse
“whose” with people. It’s just possession. “When”, time; “where”,
place; “why”. I put this one in brackets because really you
can only say: “The reason why he did that.” I… I’m a grammar purist, I’m sorry to say, and
some of you might laugh at me, but I hate when I see: “The reason why.” It’s not wrong, it’s commonly used,
it’s accepted, but reason is a thing. So I say: “The reason
that he”, etc. There’s no need to use “why”. The reason means why, use that. But if you use “why”, you’re okay,
that’s why I’ve put it in brackets. I don’t like it, but
it’s acceptable. Use at your own discretion. Okay, let’s look at
some more examples. Okay, let’s look at a few more samples, and
we’ll get into a little bit more detail about what’s going on. “Jerry went to the same store
where Jennifer bought her couch.” So now, Jerry went shopping for a couch,
and he went to a particular place. So he went to the
same store where… So now I’m pointing to
a place, the store. I could say: “The same store that Jennifer bought
her couch at”, but not a very good sentence. If it’s a place, I can
point to it as a place. Just use “where”. I’m going to show you after, I’m going to show
you a different way to say it using “at”, “which”, or whatever, a
preposition plus “which”. We’re going to get to that. So, another thing you’ll
notice: There’s no comma here. I’m identifying the store. The same store as what? The same store as she went, the
same store as she went? No. The same store where
Jennifer bought her couch. So I have to identify
which store. Another thing to keep in mind: The adjective
clause must almost always come right after the noun that it is modifying. Okay? Sometimes there are exceptions, I will
show you those in a minute as well. So, no comma means identifying. “Frank went to study in Boston.” Now, Boston, first of all you’ll notice
a capital B so it’s a proper name. Everybody knows this city, Boston,
I don’t need to identify it. So anything that comes in the adjective clause after
will follow the comma because it’s modifying, it’s extra information. “…where” means Boston,
the place, the city. “…where some of the world’s
best universities are based.” Simple enough. But again, right after
the noun it’s modifying. Now, generally speaking, when you have an
identifying or defining clause with no commas, you’re going to use “that”. When you have a modifying clause with commas,
you’re going to use “which” when we’re talking about things. But there are occasions where
you can use “that” or “which”. In many grammar books you will see “which”
or “that”, you can use them both. I prefer that you use “that” with identifying,
“which” with non-identifying, but there are occasions where I would
use “which” instead. “The only effort that matters
is that which leads to a win.” Okay? Now, what is this? Keep in mind that the word “that” is one of
the most confusing words in English because it has many functions. In this case, this is a pronoun,
a demonstrative pronoun. “That” means “that effort”. Okay? So, here, it’s
a noun basically. It’s a pronoun. So I am modifying this noun
with this adjective clause. So I could say: “The only effort that
matters is that that leads to a win.” Not wrong, it’s totally okay, you can say
that, but having “that” and “that” can be a little bit confusing, can sound a little bit
off, which is why I prefer to use “which” in this case. Otherwise, I would go with “that”
for the identifying clause. Okay? I’m talking about the effort, the
specific effort that leads to a win. Okay? But, again, I don’t want to have: “that
that”, so I’m going to use “which” in this case. Otherwise, not. We’re going to look at a few more
examples to have a better idea of when to use what. Okay, let’s look at our next examples, and
a few things to mention here specifically about adjective clauses. So first remember I said that the adjective
clause must always come right after the noun it’s modifying. There are exceptions. This is the thing about English,
there’s exceptions to every rule. Let’s look at this example: “Many students in Mrs. Reynold’s class who
went on the field trip are home sick…” Oh, sorry. “…are home sick with the
flu that’s going around”. Okay? Now, is this adjective clause:
“who went on the field trip”… A field trip is basically in school when the kids
go out to a museum or to a play or whatever, that’s called a field trip. Is this modifying “class”? No, of course not. “Class” is not a person,
I can’t use “who”. I’m obviously talking
about the students. I’m modifying the students. So it’s very far away. In this case it’s probably okay because:
A) I have a prepositional phrase. Okay? So the prepositional phrase basically completes
the idea of students, so “students” is the actual noun. Now, another thing is it’s very clear
that “who” is not talking about “class”. In this case, it’s very difficult
for a reader to get confused. The reader knows that it’s about students,
and therefore it’s okay to do it. Try to avoid it. If you can write another
way, if you can say: “Many students who went on the field
trip in Mrs. Reynold’s class”, this actually is a much
more confusing sentence. If you try to put
the modifier… If you try to put the adjective clause directly
after “students”, you would make the sentence even more complicated. If you can put it like this and it’s clear
and it’s easy to understand, leave it. If you can’t, rearrange the entire sentence
to put it a different way so you can put the adjective clause next to the noun if
you think the reader will be confused. “…are home sick”-this is two words-“with
the flu that’s going around”. Now, the reason I added this… This is, again: “…that is going”, we have
another adjective clause identifying which flu we’re talking about. There’s a flu that’s going
around to all the kids. All I wanted to show you here that you can have
a sentence with more than one adjective clause. You can have many
adjective clauses. As many nouns as there are in a sentence,
that’s how many adjective clauses you can have. You can even have an adjective clause inside
an adjective clause if that first adjective clause has a noun in it. Okay? But again, the more you put in, the
more chance there are to confuse your reader. And again, we’re talking more
about writing than speaking here. In speaking you can get
away with a lot more. Now, another thing: Remember what I said,
again, about putting it right behind, right next to the noun
you’re modifying? Except for the case of “which”. An adjective clause with “which” can
modify the entire clause before it. So this “which” is
not about “test”. Okay? This “which” is modifying
the entire clause. “Larry failed his test,” so “which”
talks about this situation, “means he’ll have to
go to summer school”. Okay? So this “which” is talking about the entire
situation, but you can only do it with “which”, you can’t do it with
“that” necessarily. And, again, we’re still doing… We’re still doing a comma because when you’re
doing it like this, “which” above the entire clause, there’s always going to be a comma because
you’re not identifying the noun before it. One other thing to look at here: “…which means that he’ll
have to go to summer school”. Another thing you have to keep in mind is that
the pronoun “that” can also begin a noun clause. If you’re not sure about noun
clauses, I have a video about those. You can check that out and you can
learn about noun clauses that act… In this particular case, the noun clause
acts as an object to the verb “means”. Means what? “…that he’ll
have to go to summer school”. So, again, you have a sentence, you have a
clause inside a clause, and the whole clause is about the whole other clause. Confusing. No, not really. Everything has to make sense. That’s the beauty about
English, it must makes sense. If you know how to cut everything into its
proper pieces, if you know how to relate every word or every phrase or every clause to
everything around it, it all makes sense. So be patient, slowly
go through every piece. Make sure that everything has its place,
has its function, has its purpose. Okay. Last one. One last thing you want to know about adjective
clauses: Sometimes we can use a preposition with a conjunction, with
a relative pronoun. Most commonly you’re going to use “who” or
“which” to use these, and the thing to remember about the preposition: They’re
regular prepositions. They still have the same
function as a preposition. So, “about” means regarding something, you’re talking
about something, you’re pointing to something. So in this case, a
billionaire is the person. “…about whom”, so: “…the
public knows little…” Whoa, sorry, I doubled here. Don’t do that. Don’t put both the preposition at the
beginning and the end, only at the beginning. You could say: “…whom the
public knows little about”. But some grammar teachers will tell you that’s
bad English, never put “about” at the end of the clause; always put at
the beginning or other places. “…about whom the public knows
little, donated millions to charity”. So: “The eccentric billionaire donated to
charity”-that’s your independent clause- “about whom the public knows”. So “knows” is your verb, “…knows
little about the billionaire”. Okay? The car in which the actor arrived
to the party is a Lamborghini. The car in which, so the actor arrived in the
car, in the Lamborghini, in which, about whom, about which. To which, to whom. You can use any combination of preposition with
pronoun, but remember that the preposition takes the function of a
preposition, nothing else. Okay, so again, there’s lots… A lot more examples that we could go through, but
they all basically function in the same way. An adjective clause
is an adjective. In a different lesson we’re going to look at
the way that adjective clauses can be reduced to one word or one phrase, but that’s a different
lesson that you can watch that and learn about that. And lots of things you can do. Remember that there are three dependent clauses:
Noun clause, adjective clause, adverb clause. There’s a lesson for
each one of those. You can watch those. And that’s it. If you like this lesson, please
subscribe to my YouTube channel. If you have any questions about this
lesson, please go to There’s a forum there, you can ask your
question and I will be happy to answer you. There’s also a quiz with more sample
sentences for you to practice with. And again, do the quiz, ask me the questions,
everybody will get ahead in no time. Okay? Thank you very much. See you next time. Bye-bye.

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