Defining Relative Clauses

Jun 02, 2015

In this week’s Intermediate class, the students have been revising Defining Relative Clauses. Initially they may seem complicated and confusing but, with practice, they can be used to make your writing more descriptive and interesting.

Defining relative clauses give essential information to define or identify what we are talking or writing about. For example:

  • Students who study hard pass their exams.
  • An elephant is an animal which lives in hot countries.

If we remove the defining relative clause, the sentence is still grammatically correct but the meaning is different:

  • Students pass their exams.
  • An elephant is an animal.

It’s also important to remember that in spoken English we often substitute ‘who’ or ‘which’ for ‘that’:

  • Students that study hard pass their exams.
  • An elephant is an animal that lives in hot countries.

Are you comfortable using defining relative clauses? If you are interested in learning more, visit the EDUFIND website ( for more information and help. Good luck!


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