The relative pronoun & the adjective clause

who, where, when, whom, etc.

· Grammar

What is a pronoun? What is an adjective? What is a clause?

  • A pronoun "est un mot ou un ensemble de mots dans une langue qui sont utilisés comme substituts de noms ou de phrases nominales."
  • An adjective "est un mot qui qualifie un nom ou un pronom."
  • A clause "est un groupe de mots, composé d'un sujet et d'une forme déterminée d'un verbe."
  • Examples of pronouns: The most commong pronouns are personal. For example, I, we, you, he, etc.
  • Examples of adjectives: Red, big, wooden, Angolan, etc (learn about the order of adjectives and about -ed and -ing adjectives)
  • Examples of clauses: There are independent clauses and dependent clauses. Independent clauses can stand on their own as a sentence. They have a subject and a verb, and they express a complete thought. Dependent clauses cannot stand on their own and do not express a complete thought.


  1. The great man stood up and made a speech.
  2. My birthplace has been destroyed by war.
  3. The hungry dog ate everything in the plate.
The words in bold are adjectives. Adjectives define or qualify a noun (A big car). We can replace the adjective with a clause: The man, whom everyone admired, stood up and made a speech. "Whom everyone admired" is a non-essential adjective clause. We can understand the sentence without it. We can say, "The man stood up and made a speech," and it's a complete sentence. We provide the non-essential adjective clase as extra information, not necessary to the meaning of the original sentence.
An essential adjective clause cannot be omitted without modifying the meaning of the sentence. If the room is full of great men and all the other great men were detested, the "whom everyone admired" becomes essential, to specify which great man we're talking about.

Sometimes you will hear "relative clause", it's the same as an adjective clause. A dependent relative clause is essential and an independent one is non-essential.

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