Defining and Non-Defining Relative Clauses

Defining and Non-Defining Relative Clauses

Defining and Non-Defining Relative Clauses

Defining and Non-Defining Relative Clauses

Before we understand what defining and non-defining clauses are, it is better to have a clear idea of Relative Clauses.

 

What is a clause?

A clause is a group of words that forms part of a larger sentence. It has its own subject and predicate.

 

What is a Relative Clause?

The clauses that start with Relative Pronouns are called Relative clauses. They are used to define or identify the noun (antecedent) that precedes them. Relative Clauses are also called Subordinate Clauses used in Complex Sentences. 

 

What is a Relative Pronoun?

A Relative Pronoun is used to join a clause or phrase to a noun or pronoun (antecedent) in the previous clause. Relative Pronouns like who, that, which, whose, whom are used to introduce the Relative Clauses.

For Example:

  • Rajesh is my brother.  He is in London.
  • Rajesh, who is my brother, is in London.

 

  • My flat is on the fifth floor. It needs a lift.
  • My flat, which is on the third floor, needs a lift.

 

  • There is a person. I don’t like him.
  • There is a person whom I don’t like.

 

  • This is the best gift. I have ever got it from my brother.
  • This is the best gift that I have ever got from my brother.

 

Now, let us see how we use the Relative Pronoun as a subject and an object.

 

Relative Pronoun as a Subject: When the verb is used right after a Relative Pronoun in a sentence, it is called the Subject.

Examples:

  • Here are the mangoes that are very sweet. (The mangoes are very sweet. So ‘the mangoes’ is the Subject here)
  • Alexander was the king who conquered the world. (The king conquered the world. So ‘the king’ is the Subject here)
  • This is the system which gave me a lot of trouble. (The system gave me a lot of trouble. So ‘the system’ is the Subject here)

 

Relative Pronoun as an Object: When there is no verb right after a Relative Pronoun in a sentence, it is called the Object. We use any noun or pronoun immediately after the Relative Pronoun.

Examples:

  • I saw a girl whom I met in Bangalore. (I met a girl in Bangalore. So a girl the is the object here)
  • This is the lappy which my brother gave as a gift. (My brother gave lappy as a gift. So the lappy is the object here)
  • The student, whom Snehith helped, is now helping many others. (Snehith helped the student. So the student is the object here)
  • They are the kings whom Alexander defeated. (Alexander defeated the kings.  So ‘the kings’ is the Object here)
  • There are several books that I have donated to the Central Library. (I have donated several books to the Central Library.  So ‘several books’ is the Object here)

 

Defining and Non-Defining Relative Clauses:

There are two main Relative Clauses – Defining and Non-Defining. Generally, we start these clauses with a relative pronoun.

 

Defining Relative Clause:

Defining Relative Clause is also called the Restrictive Clause. This clause is used to give essential information about someone or something in the sentence. Commas are not used to separate this clause and this part cannot be omitted from a sentence. This clause usually comes immediately after the noun it describes.

Examples:

  • She is the lady who fell in love with me.
  • They are the students who want to participate in this game.
  • Here are the mobiles which are not working properly.
  • Here is the actress whom I have invited as a guest. 

 

The highlighted Relative Clause in every sentence is the essential part without which the sentence doesn’t make much sense.

 

Relative Pronouns we use here:

  For persons For things
Subject who/that which/that
Object who/whom/that which/that
Possessive whose whose

 

The relative Pronouns can be used as a subject or an object in Defining Relative Clause.

 

The Relative Pronoun as a Subject in Defining Clause:

As a Subject immediately after the subject of the sentence:

Examples:

  • The people who were involved in the agitation have been arrested.
  • The spectacles which are broken have been returned.
  • The house that is old has been dismantled.
  • My friend who is blind can sing melodious songs.

 

As a Subject after the object of the sentence:

Examples:

  • They are the people who were involved in the agitation.
  • These are the spectacles which are broken.
  • There was a house that had been dismantled.
  • He is my friend who can sing melodious songs.
  • They have a car which is an Audi.
  • Yesterday, we bought a flat that costs Rs. one crore.

 

The Relative Pronoun as an Object In Defining Clause:

 

As an Object immediately after the subject of the sentence:

Examples:

  • The people whom I appreciate much have been arrested.
  • The spectacles which our granny recently purchased have been returned.
  • The house that my friend recently purchased has been dismantled.
  • My friend whom my father taught can sing melodious songs.

 

As an Object after the object of the sentence:

Examples:

  • They are the people whom I have motivated. 
  • These are the spectacles that my sister has broken.
  • There was a house that my friend had dismantled.
  • He is my friend whom my mother taught to sing melodious songs.
  • They had a car which they used to give me sometimes.
  • Yesterday, we bought a flat for which we paid rupees one crore.

Use of ‘that’ instead of who, whom or which

We sometimes use ‘that’ instead of who, whom or which in Defining Relative Clause.

Examples:

  • They are the students who/that want to participate in this game.
  • Here are the mobiles which/that are not working properly.

Omission of the Relative Pronoun:

Sometimes, the Relative Pronoun that is used as an Object, can be omitted in a sentence. 

Examples:

  • Here is the actress (whom) I have invited as a guest. 
  • Here are several books (which) I have donated to the Central Library.
  • This is the house (that) I have given to a charitable trust.

 

That Vs. Which

‘That’ is used only in Defining Relative Clauses. 

  • The mobile that was damaged was given to repair.

‘Which’ is used in Defining and Non-Defining Relative Clauses.

  • The mobile, which was damaged, was given to repair.

 

Non-Defining Relative Clause:

The non-Defining Relative Clause is also called the Non-Restrictive Clause. This clause is used to give extra or nonessential information about someone or something in the sentence. 

Commas should always be used to separate the Non-Defining Relative Clause from the rest of the sentence. Even if we remove this clause from a sentence, the meaning of the sentence will not change. But some minor details may be lost. This clause usually comes immediately after the noun it describes.

 

Relative Pronouns we use here:

For persons For things
As Subject who which
As Object who/whom which
As Possessive whose  

 

We don’t use ‘that’ in non-defining relative clauses, so we use ‘which’ in place of ‘that’. The relative Pronouns can be used as a subject or an object in Defining Relative Clause.

 

The Relative Pronoun as a Subject in Non-Defining Clause:

As a Subject immediately after the subject of the sentence:

Examples:

  • My son, who is a chess player, works in Amazon.
  • Our school principal, who is known for discipline, is very strict.
  • The chair, which is broken, has been thrown away.
  • The car, which is missing, has been recovered.
  • The police, whose services are commendable, are doing good services.

 

As a Subject after the object of the sentence:

Examples:

  • There are several cars, which are seized by the police.
  • I have many friends in London, who can help you
  • There are several chairs, which are broken.
  • Yesterday, I spoke to my sister, who lives in the US.
  • There are some police, whose services are commendable.

 

The Relative Pronoun as an Object in Non-Defining Clause:

As an Object immediately after the subject of the sentence:

Examples:

  • My brother, whom I told you about, is working for Microsoft.
  • The bike, which I bought ten years ago, is still in good condition.
  • My friend Mr. Chary, whom I visited many times, is visiting me now.
  • Mr. Vinayaka, whose house I have purchased, is living now in Australia.

 

As an Object after the object of the sentence:

Examples:

  • I have given you many instructions, which you need to follow.
  • I got a teaching job, which my friends do not like.
  • My wife ordered groceries online, which have not yet been delivered.
  • We all went to the Botanical Garden, which we have never visited before.

Difference between Defining and Non-Defining Relative Clauses:

Defining Relative Clause: Non-Defining Relative Clause:
Used to provide essential information. Used to provide extra or non-essential information.
No commas are used. Commas are used to separate the relative clause
The relative clause cannot be omitted. It can be omitted.
Relative Pronouns in the Objective Case can be omitted. No Relative Pronoun can be omitted.
‘That’ can be directly used.

The word ‘That’ can replace who, whom and which.

‘That. can’t be used.

‘Which’ can be used in place of ‘that’.

Example Sentences :

  • My friend gave me his bike that/which has recently been purchased. 

(There were two or more bikes and he gave me the one recently purchased.)

  • My brother who lives in Bangalore is a doctor

(I have more than one brother)

Example Sentences :

  • My friend gave me his bike, which has recently been purchased. 

(There was only one bike and he gave it to me.)

  • My brother, who lives in Bangalore, is a doctor.

(I have only one brother)

 

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