Grammar: Relative clauses on the web-site for teachers and learners of English as a secondary language from a German point of view
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Relative clauses

a) Defining relative clauses and contact clauses
 
Form
 
related word,
part of 
main clause
relative pronoun + 
subject (S)
part of relative clause 2nd part of main clause Explanation or rule
The man who / that (S) has sent me this letter is my friend's brother. The yellow sentence is the main clause.
The car which/ that (S) is over there is one of his three cars. Those words in black are the relative pronouns.
A friend  whosecar was stolen drives one of his cars now. They refer /relate to theprevious word.
The car whosebumper /
the bumper of which 
is deformed is his favourite car. Together with the words in red they form the 
relative clauses
The man who/that met yesterday  needs some help from the police. "who/whose/who(m)"relate to 
persons or people.
The theft which/that told you about happened3 weeks ago. "which"and"whose" relate to 
things and animals.
"that"can relate to both.
The car in which the thieves had escaped contained 5000 €. When a preposition is used together
with a relative pronoun the preposition
is followed by "which" or "who(m)"
The money that he  had put in was meant for his son. When a preposition is used together with 
the relative pronoun "that" the preposition
is put at the end of the relative clause
The son ----- he had brought to hospital needed the money for a therapy. If the relative pronoun "who/which/that" 
is used in object case it can be left out.
These relative clauses without relative 
pronouns are called "contact clauses".
The place where they stole his car was near the hospital. "where" relates to a certain place
The time whenthey stole his car was 9 a.m. "when" relates to a certain time
The reason whythey stole this old car isnot known.  "why" relates to a certain reason

Defining relative clauses arenot separated by commas.

Functions
Use
  • Defining relative clauses function as adjective equivalent which is essential to the meaning of the sentence.
  • Defining relative clauses define nouns in order to distinguish similar persons or things in order to diminish ambiguity
  • Defining relative clauses relate to known facts in order to explain something new.
  • Contact clauses are common in spoken English.
  • Curriculum Form 7/8: 
    • The man who../ that
    • The thing which.../ that
    • contact clauses
    Form 9/10:
    • Revision and remedial work
    Difficulties intralingual
  • In spoken English there is no difference between the relative pronoun "who" (subject case) and "who" (object case)

  • "Whom" is very formal and is only used in written English. 
  • "That"normally follows words like "something, anything, everything,nothing, all that......."
  • When the relative pronouns"who(m)", "which" or "that" (in object case) are omitted the relative clause becomes a contact clause.
  • Use "that" with a preposition at the end of the relative clause.
  • You can easily find out whether a relative pronoun is an object because it is normally followed by another subject + verb.
  • "Whose" can be used for the possession of persons, "of which" is used to express a part of a thing. 

  • While "whose" precedes the relative clause, "of which" follows the referential word in the relative clause.
    "The woman whosename I always forget has called."
    "The little town in Corwall the name of which I always forget will be our next summer destination."
    The construction with "noun + of which" is often regarded a bit clumsy, especially if the referential noun is a longer expression.
    Therefore more and more often "whose" replaces "of which" when talking about things.
  • Competing structures: 

  • The lady with the green hat is my sister.
  • complementary structures: 

  • Which of these...... ...... ....... ? ( interrogative pronoun "Which" to make a choice )
    The first/last to go. (infinitive after "the first/the last/superlatives")
  • confusing: 

  • That boy over there is my son. ( demonstrative pronoun "that")
    He said that he had no time. ( conjunction "that")
  • No punctuation
  • interlingual:
  • There are different relative pronouns according to persons as subjects/objects to which they relate 

  • compared with non-personal subjects/objects (animals or things) in English vs.
    relative pronouns according to gender in German (der, die, das)
  • The verb agrees with the noun related to: 

  • This is one of thecrimesthat have become known lately.
    Situations Which is which? Make a choice.
    What is a....? Give a definition.

    b) non-defining relative clauses
     
    Form
     
    related word
    part of 
    main clause
    relative pronoun + 
    subject (S)
    part of relative clause 2nd part of main clause Explanation or rule
    My dad, who(S) is 95 years old, has worked all his life. The yellow sentence is the main clause.
    His BMW, which (S) is an old German brand, is one of his three cars. Those words in black are the relative pronouns.
    Dad's friend,  whosewife  died in 2000, drives an Opel, too. They refer /relate to the previous word.
    That BMW, the engine of which has run 200.000 km, is all his pride. Together with the words in red they form the 
    relative clauses
    Dad's friend, who meet only once a year,  drives his veteran car in summer. "who/whose/who(m)"relate to 
    persons or people.
    This car, which he  loves, had a crash last week. "which"and"whose/...of which" relate to 
    things and animals.
    "that" is not used in non-defining relative clauses
    His car, in which he drove so many km, was totally damaged. When a preposition is used together with 
    The rests, for which the police called a junk dealer, were found in the ditch. the relative pronoun "who(m), which" the preposition
    is put in front or at the end of the relative clause
    Dad's friend,  who he visited at the hospital, was not hurt very much. If the relative pronoun "who(m) / which" 
    is used in object case it can't be left out.
    This bent, where many people died, is secured by traffic lights. "where" relates to a certain place
    At night, whenmost accidents happen, the road is blocked now. "when" relates to a certain time

    Non-Defining relative clauses areseparated by commas.

    Functions/
    Use
     
    Non-defining relative clauses do not help us to identify someone or something. They give additional, interesting information which is not essential to the meaning of the sentence. 
    The information given in the non-defining relative clauses can be accompanied (really or virtually) by the phrase "by the way". The commas have a similar function to brackets.
  • Non- defining relative clauses are mostly used in written English.
  • Curriculum Form 7/8: 
    • President Bush, who had won the election by a few votes, worried about the US dollar.
    • New York Stock exchange, which is one of the most important markets, hopes for tremendous profits.
    Form 9/10:
    • Revision and remedial work
    Difficulties intralingual
  • "who" (subject case), "who / whom" (object case). "whose" (possessive case) are used for persons, "which" for things and "where" for places, "when" for times. No"that" is used in non-defining relative clauses. 
  • Relative pronouns can't be omitted. 
  • The non-defining relative clauses must be separated from the main clause by commas.
  • Non-defining relative clauses are used to decorate a statement. 
  • Prepositions usually precede the relative pronoun in written, formal English. 

  • The preposition can go at the end of the clause in spoken English. 
    "We went to the old English pub "Swan", into which we had never been." (written, formal English) 
    "We went to the old English pub "Swan", which we had never been into." (spoken English) 
  • The relative pronoun "which" at the beginning of a non-defining relative clause, can refer to all the information contained in the 

  • previous main part of the sentence, rather than to the preceding referential word. 
    "She is studying Latin in evening courses, which many people hate." (Many people hate studying, hate Latin, hate evening courses.)
  • Competing structures: 

  • "My grandfather, a really handsome man, lived in Italy." (an apposition) instead of the non-defining relative clause
    "My grandfather, who was a really handsome man, lived in Italy."
  • complementary structures: 

  • Who/Which/Whose/Whom/Where/When/What ...... ...... ....... ?
    ( interrogative pronoun "Who", "Whose","Whom","Which","Where","When","What"... )
    interlingual:
  • There are different relative pronouns according to persons as subjects/objects to which they relate 

  • compared with non-personal subjects/objects (animals or things) in English vs.
    relative pronouns according to gender in German (der, die, das)
    Situations What I wanted to mention, by the way.... 
    Give a complex, decorated description of somebody or something you already know.


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