You’re probably already familiar with adjectives. They modify nouns and pronouns, providing a description or information. Adjective clauses, however, are groups of words that contain a subject and a verb, and provide further description.
Adjective clauses begin with relative pronouns, including:
They may also begin with relative adverbs, such as:
Seems simple enough, right? Let’s dive right into some different examples of adjective clauses. As soon as you see adjective clauses in action, you’ll be able to spot them from a mile away.
Adjective Clauses in Action
Adjective clauses don’t usually change the basic meaning of a sentence. Rather, they clarify the writer’s intent.
Here’s one thing to keep an eye out for. When adjective clauses add more information to a sentence, rather than just description, they often need to be set off with a comma.
Here are some example sentences with the adjective clause underlined:
- Pizza, which most people love, is not very healthy.
- Those people whose names are on the list will go to camp.
- Grandpa remembers the old days when there was no television.
- Fruit that is grown organically is expensive.
- Students who are intelligent get good grades.
- Eco-friendly cars that run on electricity help the environment.
- I know someone whose father served in World War II.
- The slurping noise he makes is the main reason why Sue does not like to eat soup with her brother.
- 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.
- The store where the new phone was being sold had a huge line of people outside it.
- "He who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe is as good as dead." - Albert Einstein
- “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
Reducing Adjective Clauses to Phrases
An adjective clause that has a subject pronoun (which, that, or who) can also be shortened into an adjective phrase.
You can shorten an adjective clause in two ways:
- Omit the subject pronoun and verb.
- Omit the subject pronoun and change the verb so it ends in -ing.
Here are some examples to help you create an adjective phrase:
- Adjective Clause: The books that were borrowed from class must be returned.
- Adjective Phrase: The books borrowed from class must be returned.
- Adjective Clause: The girl who is leading the parade is my best friend.
- Adjective Phrase: The girl leading the parade is my best friend.
- Adjective Clause: His share of the money, which consisted of $100,000, was given to him on Monday.
- Adjective Phrase: His share of the money, consisting of $100,000, was given to him on Monday.
- Adjective Clause: Something that smells bad may be rotten.
- Adjective Phrase: Something smelling bad may be rotten.
Remember, the goal of an adjective clause is to add more information to a noun or a pronoun. As you can see from the examples above, you can add information by including a longer adjective clause or tighten up a sentence by turning the adjective clause into an adjective phrase.
Either way, thanks to these descriptive guys, you’ll be able to paint a more picturesque scene for your readers and help them fall into the story with enough description to make them feel like they’re a part of it.
No matter where your adjective clauses take you, always remember they travel well with commas. More often than not, a comma is just the trick to set apart a non-essential adjective clause with elegance and grace.