Relative clauses


Relative clauses

The main problem in this section is the difference between defining and non-defining relative clauses. This is not an area to spend too much time on. They mostly present a punctuation problem in written English. It is worth mentioning that many native speakers find them problematical.

Non-defining relative clauses

Most relative clauses are of this kind - where the clause merely adds an extra piece of information:

He introduced me to his sister, who is retired and lives in America.
(The sister just happens to be retired and living in America.)

My boss, who's Irish, is on holiday this week.
(My boss just happens to be Irish.)

In both these examples, we use commas to show that it is an extra piece of information.