Use a phrase like an adjective.
An adjective clause (sometimes called a relative clause) is a phrase that is used to give more information about a noun. Look at this example:
That is the place where James was born.
This sentence is about a place. It uses the phrase "where I was born" to say which place.
Here are some more examples:
He's the man who lives next door.
This is the house where she lived.
These are the souvenirs which Ben and Claire bought in Turkey.
You can see that in every case a phrase is used to give more information about the place, person or thing we are talking about. That phrase is called an adjective clause and we use it inside a sentence to describe something.
When you use an adjective clause, you must have these parts:
Here are some examples:
|1. Noun||2. Joining word||3. Clause|
|3-1. Subject||3-2. Verb|
|the place||where||James||was born|
|the souvenirs||which||Ben and Claire||bought|
|the day||when||the company||was founded|
We use adjective clauses to identify people and things. We use a phrase (clause). That phrase shows, with an action, why a thing or person is important.
Compare these two sentences:
Sentence 1 is pretty boring, but sentence 2 is nice. It gives me a little more information about the book and why it is special. Using an adjective clause helps you communicate something extra.
Sometimes names of things mean nothing. People might not know the name of a place, thing or person. So, how do you talk about these things? You use a relative clause. For example:
If you are talking to someone who does not know Matthew, then sentence 1 is not really so helpful. If you said, "That's Matthew," the next question from your friend would be, "Who's he?" If you use sentence 2, then you are identifying Matthew by what he does (not his name).
What about this case? You need to borrow something from your co-worker. The only problem is that you don't know the name of the thing in English. You can see it on her desk. Which sentence is better?
Sentence 2 is going to be faster and easier. If there many things on your co-worker's desk, sentence 1 is not so helpful.
When you join an adjective phrase to a noun, you often need a joining word. In English, we use these joining words:
Remember that when we make adjective clauses, we don't use "what" as a joining word.
The joining word must match the noun you are describing:
|- the girl who Kenji saw;
- the man whose car was stolen;
- the girl that Kenji saw.
|- the city where Mariko rented an apartment;
- the city that Mariko rented an apartment in.
|- the food which I bought;
- the food that I bought.
|- the day when Sally is going to buy a new car;
- the day that Sally is going to buy a new car.
|- the reason why I started;
- the reason that I started.
There are two important things to notice:
These joining words are special. They can be the subjects or objects of the verbs in the adjective clause.
To understand this, think about a couple of "where" and "when" examples:
In phrase 1, "the city" is not the subject or the object of "rent". The subject of "rent" is "Mariko". The object of "rent" is "an apartment". In fact, "the city" is part of the complement (the "C" in SVOC, i.e. "Mariko rented an apartment in Tokyo"). Phrase 2 is the same. "the day" is not the subject or the object of "buy". "A new car" is the object of the verb "buy", and "Sally" is its subject. Sentences that would include the information from these phrases would be something like this:
See how "in Tokyo" and "on Tuesday" come at the end? In these sentences, we know that Mariko lives in Tokyo and that Sally is planning on buying her car on Tuesday. When we use the adjective clauses, "the city where Mariko rented an apartment" and "the day when Sally buys a new car", we replace "in Tokyo" with "the city where" and "on Tuesday" with "the day when".
Now look at some of the examples from before:
"Who" is the subject of the verbs "teach" and "live". It is also the word that joins the phrase to "the guy" and "the man".
This small word "who" makes a big difference. What about if we did not have "who" in these sentences?
These are complete, full sentences. They are simple subject-verb-object-complement (SVOC) sentences. You cannot use them inside another sentence any more. Using "who" says to native speakers, "The next verb you hear (in these examples, "teach" and "live") is NOT the main verb of my sentence."
You can use "which" in the same way as "who":
"Who" and "which" can also be objects like this:
Maybe Jeremy saw Jane. Maybe Jeremy saw Hide. We don't know, but we can talk about "the person who Jeremy saw". That person is the object of the past verb of "see". Likewise, "which" is the object of "eat". It could be any fruit. We don't know, or we don't need to say, but we can still talk about it when we say "the fruit which monkeys eat".
"the book which I am reading"
"the book which I am reading"
|Jennifer||has read||the book which I am reading.|
|The book which I am reading||cost||twenty dollars.|