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Adjective Clauses

2021年10月02日

Hsu

1分钟

Adjective Clauses

First, let's review what an adjective is. Adjectives are words that describe a noun.

What is an adjective clauses? Adjective clauses are clauses that describe a noun.

An adjective clause is similar to an adjective.

It also describes a noun but it looks different.

Just like adjectives, we use them to talk about nouns.

When we use adjective clauses, we must have a subject and a verb. That's what makes it a clause, and they start with a pronouns like who, whom, which, that, whose, where etc...

People

The pronouns we can use for people are who and that.

For example,

I'm the girl (who has blonde hair).

The man (who is wearing a suit lives in San Francisco) is Jodie.

The girl (who is wearing a yellow dress) is my sister.

These five people (who are sitting next to me) are my classmates.

In this case, the subject is a pronoun.

In all of these examples, The subject pronoun is who.

who is a subject pronoun that we use for people.

Notice that the last sentence, the verb is plural, why is that?

Let's look at the noun that the adjective clause is modifying, these five people is a plural noun.

So we need to make sure we have a plural verb in our adjective clause.

The verb in the adjective clause must agree with the noun that it's modifying.

Things

The pronouns we can use for things are which and that.

We can also use Adjective Clauses to describe things.

Jamie prefers a hotel that has a pool.

I want to stay in a hotel that is close to the ocean.

Jodie and Spencer like hotels which offer free breakfast.

Must have a Pronoun

We must not omit the pronoun. We have to have it.

You cannot take out the subject pronouns in adjective clauses.

It is wrong to say:

The man (is wearing a suit) lives in San Francisco.

Structure

People

For people, we have four options who, whom, that, and nothing.

  • The woman (who Emily saw) was wearing a purple dress.
  • The woman (whom Emily saw) was wearing a purple dress.
  • The woman (that Emily saw) was wearing a purple dress.
  • The woman (Emily saw) was wearing a purple dress.

Of these four options, whom is the most formal. It is more commonly used in academic and professional writing, not often used in casual conversation.

Things

For things, we only have three options which, that, and nothing.

  • The orange purse (which she had) looked heavy.
  • The orange purse (that she had) looked heavy.
  • The orange purse (she had) looked heavy.

Of these four options, which is the most formal. It is more often used in writing than in conversation.

Possessive Pronouns

whose is a prossessive pronoun that shows ownership and relationship.

For instance:

This is a photo of a girl (whose eyes could not see).

I met a man (whose voice is very deep).

I saw a dog (whose legs are short).

In adjective clauses, whose can represent either the subject or the object of the main clause.

The boy (whose shirt is red) is the youngest.

The girl (whose hair is black) is the fastest.

Prepositions

How to make sentences using adjective clauses with prepositions?

People

For people, Here are some examples:

  • That is the teacher (to whom I spoke) yesterday.
  • That is the teacher (whom I spoke to) yesterday.
  • That is the teacher (who I spoke to) yesterday.
  • That is the teacher (that I spoke to) yesterday.
  • That is the teacher (I spoke to) yesterday.

When we talk about people and adjective clauses, we can use whom, who, that, or nothing.

But if you want the preposition right after the noun being described, for example the teacher, then the only choice we have is whom.

Things

Here are some examples for things.

  • Here is the email (about which I told you).
  • Here is the email (which I told you about).
  • Here is the email (that I told you about).
  • Here is the email (I told you about).

when we describe things instead of people, we have to use which, that, or nothing.

But after the preposition, we must use which only.

Notice

In reality, the most common written form of the sentence is the one with that.

In speaking, the most common form is the one without a pronoun.

Location

Now, You already know that who, whom, that and whose are used to modify people.

While, which, that and whose are used to modify things.

But what about where?

It's used to modify location, or places like cities, parks, rooms, even space, or places on the Internet.

The place (where I took this picture) is called Joshua Tree National Park.

These photos were taken in a forest (where you can find red trees called Manzanita trees).

The museum (where I saw a Pablo Picasso sculpture) is called LACMA.

There is an aquarium in Monterey (where you can see many different types of jellyfish).

The museum (where I saw a Pablo Picasso sculpture) is called LACMA.

The adjective clause is saying,

I saw a Pablo Picasso sculpture in a museum.

The museum is called LACMA.

Other Form of where:

  • The museum (in which I saw a Picasso sculpture) is called LACMA.

  • The museum (which I saw a Picasso sculpture in) is called LACMA.

  • The museum (that I saw a Picasso sculpture in) is called LACMA.

  • The museum (I saw a Picasso sculpture in) is called LACMA.

Notice that this last sentence does not have a pronoun which is totally fine.

All of these sentences express the same idea as the museum where I saw a Picasso sculpture is called LACMA.

Now, I'd like to give you another example.

The cafe (where I learned to play chess) had very large game boards.

Now let's think about the several different ways that I can express the same idea.

  • The cafe (at which I learned to play chess) had very large game boards.

  • The cafe (which I learned to play chess at) had very large game boards,

  • The cafe (that I learned to play chess at) had very large game boards.

  • The cafe (I learned to play chess at) had very large game boards.

Now you have a lot of choices here, but I do want to point out that the most common forms would be using where, and also not using a pronoun at all.

For instance, I can end this lesson by saying:

  • I hope you enjoyed hearing about some of the places (where I've been around California).

  • I hope you enjoyed hearing about some of the places (I've been to around California).

Time

What type of nouns do you think when modifies?

Well, Time words.

Some examples of nouns of time include time, season, morning, period, moment, anniversary, year, month and day.

But of course there are many other words that refer to time.

The 1950s was a time (when many great products were introduced).

Now I bet, 1955 was a very exciting time for both children and adults.

Because, 1955 is the year (when Disneyland opened).

Also the 1950s was a period in history (when some very important things happened).

The year (when Cambridge scientists Watson and Crick discovered the chemical structure of DNA) is 1953.

Since then we have learned so much about all living things thanks to these scientists.

October 1, 1958 is the date (when NASA became operational to begin space explorations).

Since then our understanding of our place in the universe has never been the same.

The date (when Dr. Jonas Salk announced the effectiveness of the polio vaccine on the radio) is March 26, 1953.

Thanks to Dr. Salk there are almost no known cases of polio now in the US.

Other

the 1950s was a time

many great products were introduced in that time.

There are several different ways that you can express the same idea.

The 1950s was a time in which many great products were introduced.

Notice that with which, you should use a preposition, the appropriate preposition.

The 1950s was a time that many great products were introduced.

And the 1950s was a time many great products were introduced, using no pronoun.

Using when and no pronoun are the most common forms.

Let's take a look at another example.

Let's combine these two ideas.

1955 is the year.

Disneyland opened in that year.

1955 is the year (when Disneyland opened).

Here's some other ways that you can say the same thing.

1955 is the year (in which Disneyland opened).

Hmm, we can also say,

1955 is the year (that Disneyland opened),

or you can simply say,

1955 is the year (Disneyland opened).

Shorten

Did you know that when native English speakers use some adjective clauses they naturally reduce them because they can save time.

How to shorten them to additive phrases?

Native English speakers do this all the time.

We call them adjective phrases.

I like to take pictures of people (who aren't looking at the camera).

The boy (who is sitting in the middle) is 11 years old.

The girl (who is standing next to him) is his seven year old cousin.

The man (who is on the left) is a stranger.

People (who wear stripes) should be careful about mixing too many stripe patterns.

The cartoon t-shirt (which is worn by the boy) is pretty popular on these days, my brother also likes that cartoon.

The road (that was blocked by the barriers) was part of the finish line.

Let me explain the difference between an adjective clause and an adjective phrase.

  1. A phrase is shorter than a clause.

  2. An adjective clause has an adjective clause pronoun who, which, that.

  3. A phrase does not have an adjective clause pronoun.

  4. A clause has a complete verb

  5. in a phrase the verb form is changed.

Here is an example of a sentence with an adjective clause.

The boy who is sitting in the middle is 11 years old.

who is sitting in the middle is the adjective clause.

Now let's reduce this clause to an adjective phrase.

The boy sitting in the middle is 11 years old.

Sitting in the middle is the adjective phrase.

In the phrase, you can see that there is no adjective clause pronoun and the verb is shortened from is sitting, to just sitting.

What are the rules to do this?

Let's take a look.

  1. Rule number one, you can only reduce adjective clauses that use adjective clause subject pronouns. It doesn't work with object pronouns.

Here is an example not from the conversation.

My friend (who is working in New York City) is coming to visit.

My friend (who I met in New York City) is coming to visit.

The first sentence uses who as a subject pronoun.

This means that you can reduce the sentence more.

On the other hand, in the second sentence, you see who and then the I next to it.

This is a sign that you are using who as an adjective clause object pronoun. This clause cannot be reduced.

  1. Rule number two, check the verb situation of the adjective clause.

If it is a progressive tense, with a prepositional phrase or a passive verb, they can be reduced.

Let's look at the adjective clauses.

The girl (who is standing next to him) is his seven year old cousin.

who is standing is the present progressive.

The man (who is on the left) is a stranger.

In this sentence you see who is on. on is a preposition. So this is a prepositional phrase.

The cartoon t-shirt (which is worn by the boy) is pretty popular these days.

which is worn is a passive verb.

The road (that was blocked by the barriers) was part of the finish line.

that was blocked is also a passive.

For these four sentences,you reduce the clauses by cutting the adjective clause pronouns who, which or that, then you cut the be verb.

The reduced sentences become

the girl (standing next to him) is his seven year old cousin.

The man (on the left) is stranger.

The cartoon t-shirt (worn by the boy) is pretty popular these days.

The road (blocked by the barriers) was part of the finish line.

There was one more sentence that included a present progressive.

I like taking pictures of people (who aren't looking at the camera).

Here, you see a negative verb aren't looking, which basically means are not looking.

What should we do with negatives? Well, cut the who and the be verb, and keep the not.

It would look like this, I like taking pictures of people (not looking at the camera).

Now what should we do if there are no be verbs? Let's look at the following sentence.

People (who wear stripes) should be careful about mixing too many stripe patterns.

Here, we have the simple present tense wear.

In this situation, cut the who, which, that, and take the verb and add -ing.

The shorten sentence becomes

People (wearing stripes) should be careful about mixing too many stripe patterns.

Now we have reduced all the clauses to phrases.

  • I like taking pictures of people not looking at the camera.

  • The boy sitting in the middle is 11 years old.

  • The girl standing next to him is his seven year old cousin.

  • The man on the left is a stranger.

  • The cartoon t-shirt worn by the boy is pretty popular these days.

  • People wearing stripes should be careful about mixing too many stripe patterns.

  • The road blocked by the barriers was part of the finish line.

Appositives

UCI, which is a university in Orange County, is known for its biology and engineering programs.

Michelle Obama, who is President Obama's wife, cares about the health of children in the United States.

Lord of the rings, which was a story by J.R.R. Tolkien, was made into a three-part movie.

The adjective clauses between the commas just give extra information.

Compare them to the following sentences.

The lady (who is the manager of the supermarket) is my neighbor.

The building (which is an institution for after-school tutoring) is very popular in this neighborhood.

Here, there are no commas. Why?

It is because the lady and the building are not specific. They are too general.

The listener might not know what I am referring to.

Remember, when commas are added that means the adjective clause is just additional information.

How to shorten these sentences? What are the rules?

You would just have to cut the adjective clause pronoun as well as the be verb.

For this sentences, don't cut the commas or the articles like a and an or the.

Let's take a look at what happens after reduction.

UCI, a university in Orange County, is known for its biology and engineering programs.

Michelle Obama, President Obama's wife, cares about the health of children in the United States.

Lord of the Rings, a story by J.R.R. Tolkien, was made into a three-part movie.

These adjective clauses have been reduced to nouns or noun phrases.

Can you guess what these special noun phrases are called?

it's an appositive.

An appositive is basically a noun, or a noun phrase that gives a new name to the main noun.

A university in Orange County is a noun phrase explaining UCI.

President Obama's wife is a noun explaining Michelle Obama.

A story by J.R.R. Tolkien is a noun phrase explaining Lord of the Rings.

Appositives can be used in speaking or writing but remember, if you use them in writing, make sure to include the commas to separate the noun, or noun phases, from the main part of the sentence.