13 Intro to Relative Clauses


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Theory about Relative Clauses

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13 Intro to Relative Clauses

  1. 1. Instituto de Estudios Superiores Belén PROFESORADO EN INGLÉS Gramática Inglesa II 1 RELATIVE CLAUSES DEFINITION Relative Clauses have the function of an adjective, and are placed after a noun, qualifying it. They are introduced by a relative (pronoun, adjective or adverb) which relates the clause to its antecedent (the noun it qualifies). RELATIVES The relative pronouns are: who(m) - which – that The relative adjectives are: which – whose The relative adverbs are: where - when – why CLASSES OF RELATIVE CLAUSES Relative clauses are classified into two types: DEFINING RELATIVE CLAUSES  In speech, they form part of the same intonation patterns as the noun they modify;  In spelling, they are not separate by a comma;  In meaning, they restrict (limit, determinate or define) the antecedent of the relative (which is an indeterminate noun).  They are said to be essential to the meaning of the sentence Examples: Tom has found the key that you lost yesterday. The boy who came here yesterday is my brother. NON-DEFINING RELATIVE CLAUSES  In speech, they have a separate intonation contour;  In spelling, they are separate by commas;  In meaning, they add an idea to the already defined antecedent.
  2. 2. Instituto de Estudios Superiores Belén PROFESORADO EN INGLÉS Gramática Inglesa II 2  They are not essential to the meaning of the sentence. The clause gives additional but not essential information. They may be left out without injury to the precise meaning of the word they are joined to. Examples: The Prince of Wales, who happened to be there, felt sorry for the prisoners. John, who came here yesterday, is my brother. The non-defining relative clause is not very common in speech, but occurs quite frequently in the written language. The reason is that speech prefers simple sentences, and the non-defining relative is a deliberate inclusion of unnecessary decoration within the sentence. It is a mere parenthesis, a casual aside or reminder to the listener or reader, sometimes it is marked off by means of dashes or placed in parenthesis: This boy, (who lives in the next street), Broke a window in the school yesterday. This window — which was broken by a boy yesterday — will have to be repaired. Instead of a non-defining clause, separate or coordinate sentences are usually preferred in spoken English. Compare: My brother-in-law is a mining engineer. He’s in Canada now. My brother-in-law, who is a mining engineer, is in Canada now. FUNCTION OF THE RELATIVE PRONOUN WITHIN THE DEFINING RELATIVE CLAUSE SUBJECT The boy who broke the window is called John. The man who wrote this poem is coming to tea. Anyone who wants to leave early may do so. The windows that were broken by those naughty boys have been repaired.
  3. 3. Instituto de Estudios Superiores Belén PROFESORADO EN INGLÉS Gramática Inglesa II 3 Those who want to apply for the job must hand in their applications forms before May 31st . DIRECT OBJECT The boy (that) you met yesterday is my brother. The books (that) I lent you belong to him. The man you want has just left. The flowers I cut this morning are still fresh. NOTE: THAT is used as the object of the verb, WHICH is possible for things, but THAT is usually preferred. The object THAT, however, is usually dropped. The use of WHOM for persons is comparatively rare in modern English informal style, and very rare in conversation. INDIRECT OBJECT That man (that) you lent your dictionary to seldom returns the books that he borrows. That man to whom you lent your dictionary seldom returns the books that he borrows. (More formal) The girl (that) I gave the photograph to is Susan’s cousin. The man I gave the book to has left the city. OBJECT to a PREPOSITION: (the preposition is placed at the end of the clause) Is this the pan (that) you make omelettes in? Is this the pan in which you make omelettes? (More formal) That glass you are drinking out of hasn’t been washed. The knife we use to cut the bread with is very sharp. The shop we buy the cakes from is shut. NOTE:
  4. 4. Instituto de Estudios Superiores Belén PROFESORADO EN INGLÉS Gramática Inglesa II 4 After the noun WAY it is usual to omit both the relative WHICH and the preposition in such constructions as these: That’s not the way (in which) I do it. That’s the way money goes! (= that’s how the money goes) SUBJECTIVE COMPLEMENT She’s not the woman (that) she was before she married. She speaks like the eccentric woman she is. I’m not the madman I was when you knew me first. OBJECT COMPLEMENT I’m not the fool (that) you thought me. OMISSION The relative pronoun may be omitted when it is used as a defining relative pronoun and when it is not the subject of its clause. The relative pronoun deletion transformation applies. It deletes the relative pronoun. The relative pronoun may be omitted when it is used as DO, IO, O to a P, SC, OC. Relative clauses without any connecting word are called “contact clauses.” There are some exceptions:  The relative pronoun which is functioning as S is omitted in colloquial style after THERE IS (WAS, ETC), IT IS (WAS, ETC) and WHO IS (WAS, ETC) There’s somebody at the door (who) wants to see you. There was a man (who) called to see you this morning. T’s an ill wind (that) blows nobody good. Who was that (who/that) called a few minutes ago?  The relative pronoun as subject is also generally omitted when the clause contains the “THERE + TO BE” construction.
  5. 5. Instituto de Estudios Superiores Belén PROFESORADO EN INGLÉS Gramática Inglesa II 5 This is the only book there is. These are the only good books there are on the subject. She taught me the difference there is between what is right and what is wrong.