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Adjective Clause






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Adjective Clause in English Grammar

Comprehensive Definition, Description, Examples & Rules 

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What Is an Adjective Clause?

An adjective clause is a group of words used to define a noun or a pronoun. The group of words together will help describe the noun and pronoun, making it clearer to understand. A sentence with an adjective clause will have a subject and a verb. On their own Adjective clause has no meaning.

We can use many types of adjective clauses in English grammar. The different types of adjective clauses can be named essential and nonessential clauses.

Adjectives are words that are used to describe a noun or a pronoun, on the other hand adjective clauses modify the noun.

Adjective clause examples are fairly easy to understand.

  • For example: The children who belong to this generation are brilliant.
  • That child standing there is who I told you about.
  • A boy is pretty tall, as in the books we read about sports

These three sentences are examples of the adjective clause. Here we can see that the adjective clause is helping us to understand and modify the noun better. If you take out the adjectival clause alone, they hold no meaning and make no sense.

  • Adjective clauses are dependent.
  • Adjective clauses make no sense on their own.
  • It modifies the noun and makes the sentence more clear to understand.

Definition of adjective clause?

According to Collins Dictionary and Grammar, the definition of an adjective clause is “a relative clause that modifies a noun or pronoun.”
For example: Who was there? He saw the boy with the red T-shirt standing there.

Adjective clause help us better understand the sentence with more clarity when adding a group of new clauses. As we can see here, the sentence “Who was there?” modified the noun “boy” and the pronoun “he” with the verb “standing, saw,” and the subject, making a new version of the sentence to answer it. “The red T-shirt standing” as an adjective clause doesn’t make any sense if we leave it as it is.

Forming and Using Adjective Clauses

It would be best to carefully remember the rules while forming the adjective clause. The rules to remember are mentioned below for you to take a look at:

  • Never write any adjective clause alone.

Adjective clauses are a group of words dependent on something, such as an object or subject. Writing any adjective clause alone will make no sense and confuse the reader or the speaker about the sentence without sharing enough information.

The first rule of identifying and forming an adjective clause is to start with a question or a pronoun such as who, which, etc.

An adjective clause always has two sentences combined together. One that indicates the question and another with the clause answering it. Hence, starting the adjective clause with pronouns as questions is always better.

  • Adjective clause are always written after the noun or the pronoun. 

Adjective clauses always define the noun as an adjective with a group of words making a clearer meaning. Hence, it always comes after the noun or pronoun it has to describe.

Types of adjective clause

There are different types of adjective clauses that serve different purposes. Let us together look out for different types of adjective clauses.

Essential adjective clause

The definition of an Essential adjective clause, according to Collins Dictionary, is a type of adjective clause that helps modify nouns or pronouns and tells us the main purpose of the sentence with clarity.

An essential adjective clause helps the readers or the speaker make the sentence more clear. With this kind of adjective clause, the sentence will be clearly understood.

For example:

  • My friend who was standing near the tree was on the phone.

In this example, the friend was doing something while standing near the tree and was on the phone is an integral part with an adjective clause that explains the whole purpose of the sentence. Without the adjective clause here, the sentence could not be framed appropriately. Hence it is the role of the essential adjective clause to define the sentence properly by being dependent on the verb and object or subject.

Non Essential adjective clause

A non-essential adjective clause, according to Collins Dictionary, states that an adjective clause that is not necessary or the main clue in the central part of the sentence in terms of clarity is known as a non-essential adjective clause.

Unlike essential adjective clauses, non-essential adjective clauses are the opposite. As essential clauses help the sentence become a more meaningful indication of words going on with relative pronouns answering who, which, etc. A non-essential clause is not necessarily indicated in the objective.

Some non-essential adjective clause examples are:

  • My friend, who lives in India, will come tomorrow.
  • She who plays with the children will come at 4.

The examples here are non-essential as an adjective clause. They surely enhance the sentence, but even without them, the primary purpose of the sentence is conveyed. The friend who was coming tomorrow is the main objective conveyed in the sentence, while who lives in India enhances the sentence with more clues and clarity. Similarly, the girl who plays with children will come at 4 is the main objective of the sentence, while she is the one who plays with the children is an enhancement to it.

Restrictive Adjective Clause

According to the Collins dictionary, a restrictive adjective clause states something specifically subjective and describes a personal noun, pronoun or object.
The restrictive adjective Clause’s main purpose is that it explicitly describes something making it personal. Any noun can be changed into a personal noun with the help of an adjective clause.

For example:

  • There is a park which has extremely long trees and greenery called Forest Woods.
  • The boy who was standing near me was Nilesh.

In these examples, ” which has extremely long trees and green trees called Forest Woods” and ” who was standing near me was Nilesh” are adjective clause examples that specifically state the characteristics of Forest Woods Park and Nilesh. Without these adjective clauses, the sentence would not have clarity of which park or which boy is specific.

Non- Restrictive Adjective Clause

According to the Collins Dictionary, a non-restrictive adjective clause is something that adds additional information to the sentence along with commas.
A non-restrictive adjective clause helps to convey additional information that is not necessary for the sentence. The sentence can be understood entirely without the clause, but it is better to enhance it.

For example:

  • I was there, with the red t-shirt guy, at valley view road.
  • He stood there, with a red cap, near an oak tree.

These adjective clause examples are completely understandable without the adjective clause. It just makes the sentence more accurate with information.

Difference between an Adjective, an Adjective Phrase and an Adjective Clause

If you are wondering what the difference is between an adjective, an adjective phrase, and an adjective clause, let us clear out the confusion together. Keep reading to know more!

Adjective Adjective phrase Adjective clause
An adjective is a word that is used to indicate a noun or a pronoun. It enhances the sentence's clarity and gives small specifications about the noun or a pronoun. For example: The hat is red. The grass is green. He is sweet.
An adjective phrase is a group of adjectives to give a clear understanding or description of the noun or the pronoun. An adjective phrase is similar to adjectives but in a group or a phrase making it more specific.
The adjective clause is the clause that renders support to the sentence that starts with a pronoun, answering the main intent of the sentence.
These words, " red, green, sweet," give us specification about the "hat, grass and him.
For example: She is exceptionally tall. Rajesh has an extremely loud voice. "Exceptionally tall" and "extremely loud voice" enhances and differentiate the sentences from being just "tall and loud." The phrases together made the sentence more specific.
For example: Who is standing by the tree? Nilesh, who is wearing a red cap, is standing by the tree. Who is wearing the red cap and standing by the tree is answered with an adjective clause supporting the object "tree" with the verb "standing" and the subject "Nilesh."

Example of adjective clause

Here are some adjective clause examples That can help you understand adjective clauses from a better perspective.

  1. Pizza, which most people love, is not very healthy.

  2. Those people whose names are on the list will go camping.

  3. Grandpa remembers the old days when there was no television.

  4. Fruit that is grown organically is expensive.

  5. Students who work hard get good grades.

  6. Eco-friendly cars, which primarily run on electricity, help the environment.

  7. I know someone whose father served in World War II.

  8. The slurping noise, which is incredibly annoying, is the main reason Sue does not like to eat soup with her brother.

  9. The kids who were called first will have the best chance of getting a seat.

I enjoy telling people about Janet Evanovich, whose latest book was fantastic.

Adjective Clause infographics

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Key Takeaways

  1. Relative pronouns are necessary when we write adjective clauses.

  2. Commas are an important part of sentences containing adjective clauses.

  3. There are four types of adjective clauses essential, non-essential, restrictive and non-restrictive. 


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Frequently Asked Questions

What is an adjective clause, and how is it used in a sentence?
  • Adjective clauses are supporting phrases that give more clarity to the sentences and often come after relative pronouns. It is always written after who, which, etc. It can also be used after the comma, and it helps people with more engagement and clarity in the sentence. Different kinds of adjective clauses, such as essential and non-essential, are written in different structures. Non-essential clauses are always written after adding additional information to them, and essential clauses are always written in an affirmative or direct manner.
What are some examples of adjective clauses in English grammar?

Some adjectival clause examples are:

  • “Those who do not complain are never pitied.” – Jane Austen
  • “People demand freedom of speech to make up for the freedom of thought which they avoid.” – Søren Kierkegaard

“Never go to a doctor whose office plants have died.” – Erma Bombeck

What is the difference between an adjective and an adjective clause?

An adjective is written in a sentence as a word to describe a noun or a pronoun. On the other hand, an adjective clause is a group of words written to support the main subject or object, adding value to it.

How do you form an adjective clause in a sentence?

An adjective Clause is often written after relative pronouns such as who, which etc., and comes after the comma.

What is a relative pronoun, and how is it used in an adjective clause?

A relative pronoun is something that raises questions or indication to a specific thing. It helps to connect the clause easily by combining two sentences. The relative pronoun helps join the adjective clause at the start. For example, he, who was standing near the tree, is deaf.

How do you use commas with adjective clauses in a sentence?

A comma often comes after the main subject, the pronoun, and the object. For example, he, who was standing near the tree, is deaf.

What is a non-restrictive adjective clause, and how is it used in a sentence?

Non-restrictive adjective clause is similar to the non-essential clause, which adds additional information to the sentence. It is used with several commas.

What is a restrictive adjective clause, and how is it used in a sentence?

A restrictive adjective clause enhances the sentences with their main agenda. Without the adjective clause, it will be difficult to clarify the whole sentence. It is used directly with or without any commas.

How do you identify and correct errors in adjective clauses?

There are specific rules that should be accompanied while writing adjective clauses, such as the presence of relative pronouns at the start, with the presence of subject and verb.

What are some common mistakes to avoid when using adjective clauses in a sentence?

Excessive use of commas should be avoided as it is one of the common mistakes when using an adjective clause in a sentence.

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