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Modifying Nouns with Clauses

Step by Step Instruction on Using Relative Clauses

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Modifying nouns by using clauses is referred to as the use of relative clauses, or adjective clauses. This exercise helps takes students through the process of learning how to use relative pronouns in order to use more complex sentences. Students often have difficulties understanding how to use relative pronouns in adjective clauses. This exercise provides a step by step method to understanding, and writing sentences with relative clauses. This exercise can be done online, or in class by printing off the exercise sheet. Follow each step to learn how to modifying nouns with clauses.

The Process

The following sections describe each step in the process that you will apply to the modifying nouns with clauses worksheet.

Review Relative Pronouns

The first step is to review relative pronouns that will be used in this exercise. If you are unsure of the grammar relative clauses, you can review relative clause structure. Here is a quick check list that you can use throughout this exercise:

Subject Relative Pronoun

People: who, that
Objects: which, that

Object Relative Pronoun

People: who(m), that, 0
Objects: which, that, 0

Possessive Relative Pronoun

People: whose
Objects: whose

Write Simple Sentences

To begin, write two simple sentences. The first sentence should contain a noun which is described in the second sentence. Make sure to use a variety of sentence types. Use the exercise sheet below to practice. Here are three example sentences which are used to describe the process. Follow each step carefully.

I want to eat lunch. It looks tasty!
Mary works for Peter. She bought him a birthday card.
The book is very interesting. Its cover is red.

Identify Word to Replace

Look at the second sentence and choose the word which you will replace with a relative pronoun. This word is usually a subject or object pronoun, or a possessive adjective.

I want to eat lunch. It looks tasty! -> Choose 'It' to replace.
Mary works for Peter. She bought him a birthday card. -> Choose 'him' to replace.
The book is very interesting. Its cover is red. -> Choose 'Its' to replace.

Identify Noun to Modify

Identify the noun in the first sentence which will be modified by the relative clause.

I want to eat lunch. It looks tasty! -> Modify 'lunch'.
Mary works for Peter. She bought him a birthday card. -> Modify 'Peter'.
The book is very interesting. Its cover is red. -> Modify 'book'.

Identify Whether Subject / Object Pronoun or Possessive Adjective to Replace

Take a look at the word you are replacing. Is it a subject or object pronoun, or perhaps a possessive adjective? Choose the correct relative pronoun with to use in the relative clause.

I want to eat lunch. It looks tasty! -> Choose 'It' to replace. / 'It' is a subject pronoun which is a thing = use relative pronoun 'which' or 'that'

Mary works for Peter. She bought him a birthday card. -> Choose 'him' to replace. / 'Him' is an object pronoun which is a person = use relative pronoun 'who(m)', 'that' or 0

The book is very interesting. Its cover is red. -> Choose 'Its' to replace. / 'Its' is a possessive adjective expressing possession of a thing = use relative pronoun 'whose'

Rewrite Sentence with Relative Clause

Armed with the knowledge of the essential elements, modify the noun. Remember that the the relative clause (adjective clause) is placed directly after the noun it modifies.

I want to eat lunch. It looks tasty! = I want to eat lunch which looks tasty.

Mary works for Peter. She bought him a birthday card. = Mary works for Peter who(m) she bought a birthday card.

The book is very interesting. Its cover is red. = The book whose cover is red is very interesting.

Now that you understand the process. Combine the sentences in the following exercise to write sentences with relative clauses which modify nouns.

Exercise

  1. The store sells lots of bracelets. My sister has picked up two of them.
  2. The woman has a beautiful house. Her dog barks a lot.
  3. The new car is fast. I read about it.
  4. The song is by Mozart. He wrote it.
  5. The house is very large. I live in it.
  6. The clothes she bought are expensive. Their color is red.
  7. Angela has three computers. They are made by Apple.
  8. We are working on grammar. It is very complicated.
  9. The magazine is boring. I am reading it.
  10. The computer game is expensive. Its rules are complicated.

Check your answers on the following page.

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