Today, we will cover adjective clauses. This post will refer back to our earlier lesson on restrictive and non restrictive clauses and give us a recap on some of the rules governing commas.
First, an adjective clause is a subordinate or dependent clause that describes the subject in a sentence.
An adjective clause will answer “what kind?” or “which one?” and will usually include a pronoun.
Pronouns are as follows:
Who, whom, whose, which, and that.
Who, whom, whose describe people, while which and that describe objects or ideas.
Here are some examples of adjective clauses:
I returned the wallet that I found.
I returned the wallet is the independent clause. That is the pronoun in the adjective clause that I found, which is answering the question, “what kind?”
I cried over the money which could have been mine.
I cried over the money is the independent clause. Which is the pronoun in the adjective clause which could have been mine, and it is answering the question, “which one?”
My tears, which soaked my empty pocket, fell silently.
Here we have the adjective clause , which soaked my empty pocket, answering the question “what kind?”
This last one is a non restrictive clause because it is not essential to the sentence. If we removed the adjective clause, the meaning of the sentence is the same. The adjective clause is just adding some extra information that adds spice and variety to the sentence. Please remember that non restrictive adjective clauses should not begin with “that.” Contrast that with this sentence:
My pocket that was soaked with my silent tears had a hole in it.
That was soaked with my silent tears is the adjective clause and it is restrictive. The clause gives clarity to the subject, and if removed, the sentence collapses.
Here are some more examples of restrictive and non restrictive adjective clauses:
I went to the park that was located on the south side of town.
The park, which is located on the south side of town, is the one I prefer.
The first sentence’s clause is restrictive because it adds clarity to the park. Which park? The one on the south side of town. In the second sentence, the clause is non restrictive because it does not clarify the noun.
I met someone whom I hadn’t seen in a long time.
I met Chris, whom I hadn’t seen in a long time.
The first sentence is restrictive because it is needed to describe the someone. In the second sentence, it is non restrictive. I have already stated whom I have met.
Note: whom is used in place of who when referring to a direct object.
Adjective clauses can also include subordinating conjunctions–when, where, and why.
Why will describe a reason.
We still do not understand why the chicken crossed the road.
Why the chicken crossed the road is the adjective clause describing that which we still do not understand.
When will describe time.
When the post is finished, I will get a cup of coffee.
Note: use a comma when the dependent clause is first in the sentence.
When the post is finished describes when I will get my cup of coffee.
Where will describe a place.
The dealership where I bought my first car is closed now.
Where I bought my first car describes the dealership.
Now that we have covered adjective clauses, the next post will explain adverb clauses, and that will conclude our subordinate clause series. Afterwards, I will go into more depth on a style topic-adverbs.