Adjective clauses
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Adjective clauses

Adjective clauses

Adjective clauses

What is it?

What’s an adjective?

To understand what an adjective clause is, we need to understand what adjectives and clauses are. Most of you probably know what an adjective is. In English, adjectives are used to modify or describe nouns. For example, adjectives can show size, color, emotion, and quantity. Here are some sentences with adjectives. Can you identify them?

• Mary bought a red sweater at the department store for her mother.

• The sweater was too small.

• Mary felt very disappointed.

• Mary’s mother received nice gifts for her birthday.

Here are the same sentences with the adjectives in red.

• Mary bought a red sweater at the department store for her mother.

• The sweater was too small.

• Mary felt very disappointed.

• Mary’s mother received nice gifts for her birthday.

Adjectives can describe a noun in two different ways. The adjective can come before the noun (a red sweater) or it can be connected to a noun with a linking verb (sweater was small; Mary felt disappointed).

What’s a clause?

What is a clause? In English, a clause is a set of words that includes a subject and a verb. Sentences are clauses because they always have a subject and a verb. These are clauses too:

• because the sweater was too small

• but she received many other gifts

• which she bought for her mother

Can you find the subjects and verbs in each? Click on the green question mark to check your answers.

Another example

Imagine that I have invited you to my home for Thanksgiving. You look around the room, and you ask me about the different people. Since there are several men and women in the room, I use adjective clauses to identify the different people.1. The woman who is pushing the baby stroller is my sister, Karen.

2. The man who is wearing glasses is my Uncle Kenneth.

3. The woman who Karen is talking to is my cousin, Gina.

4. The man who Uncle Kenneth is talking to is my brother, Robert.

Formation

The different kinds of adjective clauses

Before we can talk about how to make adjective clauses, let me give you some examples of the different kinds of adjective clauses. Click on the green question mark to understand the different types better.

Subject Adjective Clauses

The people who came to my party had a good time.

Object Adjective Clauses

The turkey that my father cooked was delicious.

Possessive Adjective Clauses

The woman whose baby cried during dinner was my sister, Karen.

Location Adjective Clauses

The house where we had the party belongs to my Uncle Kenneth.

Subject Adjective Clauses

The people who came to my party had a good time.

In a subject adjective clause, the subject of the adjective clause is the same as the noun it describes.

In the above sentence, the main sentence is: The people had a good time.

We want to use this sentence to describe the „people“ in the main sentence. They came to my party. Notice that the subject of this sentence is also referring to „people.“

To create the adjective clause, we change the subject of the adjective clause. For subjects which are people, we can use who or that. The most commonly used one is that.

who came to my party.

that came to my party.

Then the adjective clause goes after the noun we are describing. The result is:

The people who came to my party had a good time.

The people that came to my party had a good time.

If the subject of the adjective clause is a thing, use which or that.

I need to wash the shirt which has a stain on the pocket.

I need to wash the shirt that has a stain on the pocket.

Notice that the main sentence does not change word order.

In this exercise, you will combine the two sentences, changing the second sentence into a subject adjective clause.

1. The man is nervous. He is waiting for a job interview.

2. I know the man. He got the job.

3. The woman is the personnel director. She interviewed him.

4. He is going to work for a company. It is located in San Jose, California.

5. He is taking a job. It pays $40,000 a year.

1. The man that is waiting for a job interview is nervous.

2. I know the man that got the job.

3. The woman that interviewed him is the personnel director.

4. He is going to work for a company that is located in San Jose, California.

5. He is taking a job that pays $40,000 a year.

Object Adjective Clauses

The turkey that my father cooked was delicious.

In an object adjective clause, the object in the adjective clause is the same as the noun that the adjective clause describes.

In the above sentence, the main sentence is: The turkey was delicious.

We want to use this sentence to describe the „turkey“ in the main sentence. My father cooked it. Notice that the object of this sentence is also referring to „turkey.“

To create the adjective clause, we change the object of the adjective clause. For subjects which are things, we can use which, that or Ø, which means the word is omitted. The most commonly used one is Ø.

which my father cooked.

that my father cooked.

Ø my father cooked.

Then the adjective clause goes after the noun we are describing. The result is:

The turkey which my father cooked was delicious.

The turkey that my father cooked was delicious.

The turkey my father cooked was delicious.

If the object of the adjective clause is a person, use who, whom, that or Ø.

The
people whom we invited to dinner loved the turkey.

The people who we invited to dinner loved the turkey.

The people that we invited to dinner loved the turkey.

The people we invited to dinner loved the turkey.

Notice that the main sentence does not change word order.

In this exercise, you will combine the two sentences, changing the second sentence into an object adjective clause.

1. The man is nervous. The woman is interviewing him.

2. I know the man. The company hired him.

3. The woman is the personnel director. The man talked to her.

4. He is going to work for a company. My sister used to work for it.

5. He is taking a job. Many people wanted this job.1. The man the woman is interviewing is nervous.

2. I know the man the company hired.

3. The woman the man talked to is the personnel director.

4. He is going to work for a company my sister used to work for.

5. He is taking a job many people wanted.

Possessive Adjective Clauses

1. The woman whose baby cried during dinner was my sister, Karen.

2. The woman whose car I borrowed was my sister, Karen.

In a possessive adjective clause, the possessive in the adjective clause refers to the same noun as the adjective clause describes.

In both sentences, the main sentence is: The woman was my sister, Karen.

In the first example, we want to use this sentence to describe the „woman“ in the main sentence. Her baby cried during dinner. Notice that the possessive of this sentence is also referring to the „woman.“

To create the adjective clause, we change the possessive of the adjective clause. Possessives are usually used with people, but they are also used with things such as organizations, companies, and groups. The only adjective clause pronoun for possessive adjective clauses is whose.

whose baby cried during dinner

Then the adjective clause goes after the noun we are describing. The result is:

The woman whose baby cried during dinner was my sister, Karen.

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