Defining and non-defining relative clauses

دوره: گرامر انگلیسی در شش دقیقه / اپیزود 48

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Defining and non-defining relative clauses

توضیح مختصر

Callum and Catherine, who recorded the programme with Finns help, explore the topic of relative clauses. Did you spot the relative clause in that introduction? Was it defining or non-defining?

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Callum Hello. Welcome to 6 Minute Grammar with me, Callum.

Catherine
And me, Catherine. Hello.

Callum
In this programme, we’re talking about relative clauses.

Catherine
Yes, relative clauses add information about the person or thing that you’re talking about. There are two kinds of relative clauses: defining and non-defining.

Callum
Let’s begin with defining relative clauses. Here’s Finn with an example:

Finn
The man whose phone I found gave me a reward.

Callum
Thanks Finn. The clause whose phone I found is a defining relative clause because it identifies which man Finn is talking about. If I ask the question ‘which man’ - the relative clause answers it: the man whose phone I found .

Catherine
That’s right. And relative clauses usually start with a relative pronoun. We use who for people, which for things, that for both people and things and whose where a possessive is needed. Let’s hear another defining relative clause:

Finn
I’ve lost the t-shirt that my mother gave me .

Callum
How careless of you Finn! Here, the relative clause that my mother gave me tells us which t-shirt Finn is talking about.

Finn
I’ve lost the t-shirt that my mother gave me.

Callum Let’s move on to non-defining relative clauses. Here’s an example:

Finn David’s mother, who was born in Mexico , is my sister’s Spanish teacher.

Catherine
OK. The phrase who was born in Mexico is a non-defining relative clause. It doesn’t answer the question ‘which mother?’ because David only has one mother! Instead, the relative clause gives us extra information about David’s mother: she was born in Mexico.

Callum
In fact, if we leave the relative clause out entirely, the sentence still makes sense:

Finn
David’s mother is my sister’s Spanish teacher.

Callum
Now let’s look again at relative pronouns. We can use them to refer to the subject or object of a clause. Finn, who is Daniel Radcliffe?

Finn
Daniel Radcliffe is the actor who plays Harry Potter.

Callum
In this sentence, the relative pronoun who refers to the subject - Daniel Radcliffe. Daniel Radcliffe plays Harry Potter.

Catherine And another question for you Finn. Which sport do you enjoy the most?

Finn
Well, football is the sport that I enjoy the most, Catherine.

Callum
This time, the pronoun that refers to the object. And you can usually leave out object pronouns, like this:

Finn
Football is the sport I enjoy the most.

IDENT
You’re listening to bbclearningenglish.com.

Callum
For non-defining clauses, you can’t leave out the pronoun. Also, non-defining relative clauses can’t begin with the word that . Use which instead, like this:

Finn
Last year I went to Paris, which is the capital of France.

Callum
The clause which is the capital of France - is giving us extra information. We can leave it out and still understand the sentence:

Finn
Last year I went to Paris.

Catherine And now it’s time for a quiz. Join these sentences together using a defining or non-defining relative clause. Number one. The bus was very late. I took it this morning. The bus was very late. I took it this morning.

Callum The bus that I took this morning was very late. Or you could also say: The bus I took this morning was very late.

Catherine
You can, very good. Number two: My car needs repairing. I only bought it last month. My car needs repairing. I only bought it last month.

Callum
My car, which I only bought last month, needs repairing.

Catherine
And that was a non-defining relative clause. Number three. David Beckham has over 20 tattoos. He used to play for Manchester United. David Beckham has over 20 tattoos. He used to play for Manchester United.

Callum
David Beckham, who used to play for Manchester United, has over 20 tattoos.

Catherine Right. And we could also say: David Beckham, who has over 20 tattoos, used to play for Manchester United.

Callum
And that’s the end of the quiz. Well done you got them all right. Now for a little tip. In written English, we put commas around non-defining relative clauses. In spoken English, we leave a small pause for each comma. Listen to this example:

Finn
My sister, who works in Nairobi, is a doctor.

Callum The pauses tell us that this is a non-defining relative clause, which means Finn has only one sister, so he doesn’t need to define her.

Finn
My uncle who works in Athens is a dentist.

Catherine
And this time, there’s no pause, which means it’s a defining relative clause. Finn is defining which uncle he is talking about, so he probably has more than one uncle.

Callum
Thanks Finn. So that’s defining and non-defining relative clauses. They start with a relative pronoun and give additional information about the person or thing that you’re talking about.

Catherine
There’s more about this on our website at bbclearningenglish.com. Join us again for more 6 Minute Grammar.

All
Bye.

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