Unit 7.1

Non-Defining Relative Clauses

Complex Clauses

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Introduction

Relative clauses (defining and non-defining) give extra information about a person, a thing etc. {see Relative pronouns, A1 level}

Non-defining relative clauses give us information about a person or a thing, just like defining clauses. The information that is given by non-defining relative clauses is extra and it is not necessary.

Form

Non-defining relative clauses appear after the noun they refer to.

Their structure is:
Subject + Comma (,) + Relative Pronoun + Relative Clause + (,) + Verb + …
Subject + Verb + Object + Comma (,) + Relative Pronoun + Relative Clause + …

The Relative Pronouns that introduce defining clauses, are:

  • Which (relating to things);
  • Who (relating to people);
  • Whose (relating to something/someone belonging to people);
  • Whom (relating to people).

NOTE: Even if you remove non-defining relative clauses, the sentence would still be grammatically correct.

Example

  • The car, which is red, belongs to my daughter-in-law.
  • Joanna, who lives in Turkey, gave birth to her first child.
    My grandfather, who has not got gray hair, invited me to the neighbourhood meeting.
  • Maria, whose daughter teaches in a secondary school, is visiting me on the weekend.
  • My ex school teacher, whom I know for many years, helped me pass the exam.

Use

We use non-defining relative clauses to give information, just like defining relative clauses do.

However, information given by non-defining relative clauses do not help us describe something or somebody and they are not mandatory or necessary for the meaning of the main clause, so they can be omitted.

Summary

Non-defining relative clauses are clauses that give extra and not necessary information about a person or a thing. They do not help us describe something or somebody and they are not mandatory for the meaning of the main clause. Therefore, they can be omitted. The relative pronouns that introduce defining clauses are: which, whowhose or whom. {see Relative pronouns, A1 level}

We can find non-defining relative clauses either after the subject or after the object of the main clause. They are introduced by a relative pronoun followed be the relative clause and, if they identify the subject, the verb of the main clause. They are always separated by commas from the main clause.

For example:
— “Julia’s mother, who is a member of the Parent-Teacher Association, visited us yesterday.”  = The non-defining relative clause that starts with who gives extra information about the subject of the sentence Julia’s mother.
— “Julia’s mother, whose eyes are green, visited us yesterday.” = The non-defining relative clause that starts with whose gives extra information about something that belongs to the subject of the sentence Julia’s mother.
— “Julia’s mother bought a skirt, which is green and long.” = The non-defining relative clause that starts with which gives extra information about the object of the sentence skirt, which is a thing.
“It was Julia’s mother that bought the skirt.” = Here, the clause that starts with that is a defining relative clause because it gives essential information about Julia’s mother that cannot be omitted.

NOTE: Even if you remove non-defining relative clauses, the sentence would still be grammatically correct.

Let’s revise this content within the {Form} section. Take a look at the {Example} section that shows its use within a contex

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