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Relative clauses

Complex sentences can contain relative clauses. These clauses generally begin with with relative pronouns such as who, which and that. The relative clause acts as the dependent part of a complex sentence. There are two types of relative clauses, defining and non-defining relative clauses.

Defining relative clauses

In defining relative clauses, the clause is used to define or qualify the independent clause. This means that if the clause is removed, the meaning of the sentence is not clear.

Example od a sentence using a realtive clause.

We need to know 'which students' will find the subject easy. This is only relative to those students.

Example 3 of a complex sentence using a realtive clause.

We need to know 'why and for whom' it will be more difficult to understand. This is only relative to this kind of person and situation. 'A lecture' becomes too general.

Non-defining relative clauses

Some relative clauses are non-defining. This means that the clause is only used to add extra information to the independent clause. If the relative clause is removed, the sentence still makes sense on its own. Non-defining relative clauses are inserted between commas.

Example of a non-defining relative clause.

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