Defining and Non-Defining Relative Clauses

English Defining and Non-Defining Relative Clauses and Example Sentences

English Defining and Non-Defining Relative Clauses and Example Sentences



Defining and Non – Defining Relative Clauses

Phrases that start with words such as who, which, that, where, whose name called relative pronoun and characterize the name in a sentence or give extra information about that name are called “relative clause”. Relative clause is not independent in the sentence, but depends on the main sentence. They often come after the name they describe in the sentence. It should be noted, however, that such clauses precede the name they describe. Let’s take two sentences and convert them into one clause in relative clause:

  • The girl was very uygly.
  • She came to the party last day.





‘The girl’ in the first sentence and ‘She’ in the second sentence are the same person. So the name to be qualified is the word ‘the girl’. So, the word “the girl” means “which?” Let’s ask the question. The responding part is the relative clause, the girl who came to the party last night. Relative clause must come after the word ‘the girl’ in this sentence since it comes after the qualified name and since the word ‘the girl’ is human, two sentences must be connected with ‘who’ or ‘that’:

  • The girl who / that came to the party last day was very uygly.

If the name described was lifeless, then ‘which’ or ‘that’ would be used.

How to Use Who, Whom, Whose in English

Defining Relative Clauses

It is a structure that defines a name and makes it distinctive. For example, if we just say ‘the woman is looking at you’, the people across us will not understand who we are talking about and “which woman?” she needs to ask a question. However, if we say ‘the woman who is standing in front of the my house is looking at you’, we will define the woman and the people who listen to us do not need to ask the question ‘which woman’. If the name described in an adjective clause is not evident and becomes apparent thanks to the relative clause, such situations are called defining relative clauses. “Who” is used when describing people, and “which” is used when describing a lifeless name. ‘That’ is possible in both cases. For example:

  • Tomas congratulated the student that / who got the highest mark.





It is not clear which student the word ‘the student’ in the sentence is. However, when the ‘that / who got the highest mark’ section is added to the sentence, the student becomes apparent.

  • I’ve repaired the door that / which was broken yesterday.

Likewise, it is not clear which table the word ‘the door’ in the sentence is. However, when that / which was broken yesterday section is added to the sentence, the door becomes evident. “Which?” When we ask the question, the sentence that responds is defining relative clause. For example:

  • Marcan stole the silver bracelet that / which was in the safe. (Which ring stole?)
  • A teacher that / who doesn’t like her job cannot teach well. (Which teacher?)
  • People that / who watch film a lot don’t read much. (Which people don’t read too much?)
  • The student that / who has passed the quiz is happy. (Which student is happy?)
  • The person that / who lives next door is a lawyer. (Which person is a lawyer?)

In the examples above, defining relative clause came immediately after the defined name. Sometimes other words of the identified name can also be found in the sentence. In this case, it comes after these names. For example:

  • There is someone at the garden who wants to see you.





The word described in this sentence is ‘someone’ but came after the phrase at the garden. Because the expression at the garden belongs to the word someone and cannot be separated from it.

Non – Defining Relative Clauses

In such relative clauses section, the name in question does not need to be characterized. It is aimed to give extra information about the name already known and understood by the other party and the relative clause is separated from the main sentences. For example:

  • My mother, who loves me very much, has made many sacrifices for my happiness.

The name described in this sentence is the word ‘my mother’. It is clear who is meant by saying “Mother” and there is no need to define it separately. So the other party, “Which mother?” He does not ask a question. All that is done in the above sentence is that additional information about the mother of the person in question has been given, which is separated from the main sentence by a comma. Even if the ‘Who loves me very much’ part is removed from the main sentence, the meaning and structure of the sentence will not be distorted and there will be no need to define the mother.

‘That’ is not used in the non – relative clauses section. Instead, only ‘which’ is used after the comma, and this word cannot be omitted from the sentence. If a defined person is used, ‘who’ is used and this word cannot be removed from the sentence. For example:

  • Jesica, who always does my make up, has moved to another hairdresser’s.

Leonardo Di Caprio starred in the movie “Titanic”, which was made in 1997. (It cannot be used as ‘that’ in the sentence and cannot be removed from the sentence in ‘which’.


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