ADJECTIVE CLAUSES
Introduction

Simple Adjectives
What is an adjective?  It is a word that describes a noun.  The adjective can describe the color, size, weight, height, texture, etc. of the noun it is describing.

I have a car. It is red.
I have a red car.
My brother has two red cars.

1.  Notice that adjectives describe nouns.
2.  Notice that adjectives come before the noun--not after the noun.
3.  Notice that adjectives do not change form.  Do not add an "s"  if the noun is plural.
      My brother has two reds cars.

Adjective Clauses

You know that a clause has a subject and a verb.  When you have a clause that is describing a noun, it is called an adjective clause.  Unlike the simple adjective, adjective clauses come after the noun they describe.

The boy who is crying doesn't want his mother to leave.

1.  Notice that "who is crying"  is describing the noun "boy."  It is an adjective clause.
2.  The sentence is made up of two clauses:
     The main clause = The boy doesn't want his mother to leave.
     The adjective clause = "who is crying"  (The boy is crying.)

There are several kinds of adjective clauses. The first kind we will study is where the relative pronoun is the subject of the adjective clause. (The relative pronouns = who, that, which, whose)

Adjective Clause:  Subject (Person)

Let's look at pairs of sentences.  The second sentence will be used to describe a noun in the first sentence.

The man is my father. The man has a red beard.

Ask yourself the following questions when you are trying to combine two sentences.

  1. Which two nouns are the same in each of the sentences? 
The man  The man
  1. Is the noun in the second sentence in the subject or object position of the sentence?
The noun (the man) is in the subject position of the second sentence.  
  1. Is the noun or pronoun a person, thing, possessive, place, or time?
The man is a person.  
  1. If the noun is a person in subject position, use who or that.
who is my father.
that is my father.
 
  1. Put the adjective clause directly after the noun (or noun phrase) that you are describing.
The man who has a red beard is my father.
The man that has a red beard is my father.
2 possibilities to give the same meaning.

Adjective Clause:  Subject (Thing)

I live in a house. The house is located on Beacon Hill.

 

  1. Which two nouns are the same in each of the sentences? 
a house the house
  1. Is the noun in the second sentence in the subject or object position of the sentence?
The noun (the house) is in the subject position of the second sentence.  
  1. Is the noun or pronoun a person, thing, possessive, place, or time?
The house is a thing.  
  1. If the noun is a "thing" in subject position, use that or which.
that is located on Beacon Hill.
which is located on Beacon Hill..
 
  1. Put the adjective clause directly after the noun (or noun phrase) that you are describing.
I live in a house that is located on Beacon Hill.
I live in a house which is located on Beacon Hill.
2 possibilities to give the same meaning.

Adjective Clause:  Object (Person)

I saw a woman. You met her in Paris.

 

  1. Which two nouns are the same in each of the sentences? 
a woman  her
  1. Is the noun in the second sentence in the subject or object position of the sentence?
The noun ( her) is in the object position of the second sentence.  
  1. Is the noun or pronoun a person, thing, possessive, place, or time?
"Her" is a person.  
  1. If the noun is a person in object position, use whom, who (informal), that, or nothing.
you met whom in Paris
you met who in Paris
you met that in Paris
you met in Paris.
 
  1. Move the relative pronoun (whom, who, that) to the beginning of the adjective clause.
whom you met in Paris
who you met in Paris
that you met in Paris
you met in Paris
 
  1. Put the adjective clause directly after the noun (or noun phrase) that you are describing.
I saw the woman whom you met in Paris.
I saw the woman who you met in Paris. (Informal)
I saw the woman that you met in Paris.
I saw the woman you met in Paris.
4 possibilities to give the same meaning

Adjective Clause:  Object (Thing)

The building burned down. We visited it yesterday.

 

  1. Which two nouns are the same in each of the sentences? 
the building it
  1. Is the noun in the second sentence in the subject or object position of the sentence?
The noun ( it) is in the object position of the second sentence.  
  1. Is the noun or pronoun a person, thing, possessive, place, or time?
"it" is a thing  
  1. If the noun is a thing in object position, use that,  which, or nothing.
we visited that yesterday
we visited which in yesterday
we visited yesterday
 
  1. Move the relative pronoun (whom, who, that) to the beginning of the adjective clause.
that we visited yesterday
which we visited yesterday
we visited yesterday
 
  1. Put the adjective clause directly after the noun (or noun phrase) that you are describing.
The building that we visited yesterday burned down.
The building which we visited yesterday burned down.
The building we visited yesterday burned down.
3 possibilities to give the same meaning

Adjective Clause:  Objects with Prepositions

The pen ran out of ink. I signed the document with the pen.

 

  1. Which two nouns are the same in each of the sentences? 
the pen the pen
  1. Is the noun in the second sentence in the subject or object position of the sentence?
The noun ( pen) is in the object position of the second sentence.  
  1. Is the noun or pronoun a person, thing, possessive, place, or time?
"Pen" is a thing.  
  1. Is the noun in the second sentence after a preposition?
Yes, the noun in the second sentence is after the preposition with .
Remember prepositions are small words such as: to, in, at, by, for, to, of, with, etc.
  1. Decide if you want to move the preposition with the relative pronoun.  If you move the preposition, use preposition + which. Move the preposition + which to the beginning of the adjective clause.
with which I signed the document You can't use "that" with a preposition.

Wrong: that which I signed the document
  1. Put the adjective clause directly after the noun (or noun phrase) that you are describing.
1. The pen with which I signed the document ran out of ink. When you move the preposition to the beginning of the adjective clause, this is usually more formal.
  1. If you don't move the preposition, then use that, which, or nothing. Leave the preposition at the end of the adjective clause.
2. The pen which I signed the document with ran out of ink.
3. The pen that I signed the document with ran out of ink.
4. The pen I signed the document with ran out of ink.
4 possibilities to give the same meaning

Adjective Clause:  Object (Preposition + Person) - 5 possibilities

The person is a liar. You are speaking about him/her.

 

  1. Which two nouns are the same in each of the sentences? 
the person him/her
  1. Is the noun in the second sentence in the subject or object position of the sentence?
The pronoun ( him/her) is in the object position of the second sentence.  
  1. Is the noun or pronoun a person, thing, possessive, place, or time?
"him/her" is a person.  
  1. Is the noun in the second sentence after a preposition?
Yes, the noun in the second sentence is after the preposition about.
Remember prepositions are small words such as: to, in, at, by, for, to, of, with, etc.
  1. Decide if you want to move the preposition with the relative pronoun.  If you move the preposition, use preposition + whom. Move the preposition + whom to the beginning of the adjective clause.
about whom you are speaking You can't use "that" with a preposition and you can't use "who" after a preposition.

Wrong: that whom you are speaking

Wrong: about who you are speaking

  1. Put the adjective clause directly after the noun (or noun phrase) that you are describing.
1. The person about whom you are speaking is a liar. When you move the preposition to the beginning of the adjective clause, this is usually more formal.
  1. If you don't move the preposition, then use whom, who, that, or nothing.. Leave the preposition at the end of the adjective clause.
2. The person whom you are speaking about is a liar.
3. The person who you are speaking about is a liar. (less formal)
4. The person that you are speaking about is a liar.
5. The person you are speaking about is a liar.
5 possibilities to give the same meaning

Adjective Clause:  Possessive

Possessives:  Dan's class, the people's choice, the boy's parents, the boys' parents, my, his, her, its, our, your, their
Remember:  "It's" is not a possessive.  It's = it is.
                     Its = possessive adjective
                    What are the school's requirements?
                    What are its requirements?

The woman is crying. Her dog is dying.

 

  1. What does "her" mean in the second sentence? 
the woman's  
  1. What two nouns are the same?
the woman the woman's
(her)
  1. Is the second noun in subject or object position?
It is in subject position.  
  1. Is the noun person, thing, or possessive?
It is possessive.
 
  1. If possessive, use whose + noun
The woman whose dog is dying is crying. 1 possibility

There is no other possibility. You must always keep the "whose."

 

The girl fainted. The photographer took her picture.

 

  1. What does "her" mean in the second sentence? 
the woman's  
  1. What two nouns are the same?
the girl's the girl's
(her)
  1. Is the second noun in subject or object position?
It is in object position.  
  1. Is the noun person, thing, or possessive?
It is possessive.
 
  1. If possessive, use whose + noun
    Put the adjective clause next to the noun it describes.
The girl whose picture the photographer took fainted. 1 possibility

There is no other possibility. You must always keep the "whose."

Example with "its"

Get me the book. Its title is Gone with the Wind.
(The book's title)

Get me the book whose title is Gone with the Wind.

Adjective Clause:  Time

The day was dark and rainy. I left my country then.

What does the "then" mean in the second sentence?  It means on that day.
    I left my country on that day.

 

  1. Which two nouns are the same in each of the sentences? 
the day that day
  1. Is there a preposition in front of the noun?
Yes, on that day. The word "on" is a preposition.
  1. Is the noun or pronoun a person, thing, possessive, place, or time?
"Day" is a thing. Use "which" for things.
  1. Move the preposition + which in front of the adjective clause.
1. The day on which I left my country was dark and rainy.  
  1. Notice that you do not keep the preposition in these other possibilities.
2.  The day which I left my country was dark and rainy.
3.  The day that I left my country was dark and rainy.
4.  The day I left my country was dark and rainy.
5.  The day when I left my country was dark and rainy.
 
Prepositions of time:  at, in, on

Try to memorize these preposition + which combinations:
The day on which...
The year in which...
The month in which...
The time at which... (clock time)

 

Adjective Clause:  Place

The city is beautiful. I live there.

What does "there" mean?  It means in the city.

Prepositions of Place:  at, in, on, under, below, above, around, from, by, next to,

 

  1. Which two nouns are the same in each of the sentences? 
the city the city
  1. Is there a preposition in front of the noun in the second sentence?
Yes,  in the city  
  1. Is the noun or pronoun a person, thing, possessive?
It is a thing.
A city is a thing.
 
  1. What relative pronoun do you use for things?
which  
  1. If you move the preposition, use preposition + which. Move the preposition + which to the beginning of the adjective clause and place the adjective clause next to the noun that you are describing..
1. The city in which I live is beautiful.  
  1. Notice that with place, you must keep the preposition of place at the end of the adjective clause.
2.  The city which I live in is beautiful.
3.  The city that I live in is beautiful.
4.  The city I live in is beautiful.
When you move the preposition to the beginning of the adjective clause, this is usually more formal.
  1. However, if you do not keep the preposition, the only choice is to use where.
5. The city where I live is beautiful.

The city where I live in is beautiful.
5 possibilities with place

Do not use a preposition with where.

Another Example of Adjective Clause of Place

The street is very narrow. I live there.

5 Possibilities

1.  The street on which I live is very narrow.
2.  The street which I live on is very narrow.
3.  The street that I live on is very narrow.
4.  The street I live on is very narrow.
5.  The street where I live is very narrow.