Thursday, January 23, 2014

Adjective Clauses, Part 1

An adjective clause (also called a ”relative clause”) is a group of words that modifies a noun. It is used to link two ideas, to give us more information about a noun in the sentence.

A few things to remember:

1. Adjective clauses begin with a word called a “relative pronoun.” These include: who, whom, which, that, whose (and also where and when).
 
2. Each adjective clause should have a subject (see notes 7 and 8 below), a verb, and express some kind of  idea.
 
3. Apart from the adjective clause, the sentence should also have a main clause with its own subject, verb, and ”complete” idea.

  • CORRECT: The scientist who researched DNA in the 1980s made many important discoveries. (modifies “scientist”)


  • INCORRECT: The scientist who researched DNA in the 1980s. (the main clause in not complete- has only a subject)
4. An adjective clause is (generally) placed directly after the noun (or noun phrase) it modifies.

  • CORRECT: The scientist who researched DNA in the 1980s made many important discoveries. (modifies “scientist”)

  • INCORRECT: The scientist made many important discoveries who researched DNA in the 1980s. (OOPS! Does not modify “discoveries”!)

5. Because of rule number 4, adjective clauses sometimes fall at the end of a sentence…
  • EXAMPLE: The researcher made many important discoveries that changed the world’s view of human evolution. (OK- this one modifies “discoveries”)
6. Or sometimes the adjective clause will split the main clause and fall in the middle of the sentence. (see “the scientist” example in #7)

7. Sometimes a relative pronoun acts as the subject of the adjective clause…
  • EXAMPLE: The scientist who researched DNA in the 1980s made many important discoveries. (who=subject, researched=verb)
8. And sometimes a relative pronoun acts as the object of the adjective clause…
  • EXAMPLE: The scientist whom he assisted made many important discoveries about DNA. (he=subject, assisted=verb, whom=object)
9. WHOSE is a possessive relative pronoun.  It is always followed by a noun and can act as either subject or object…

  • EXAMPLE: The scientist whose research changed the world’s view of human evolution is recognized around the world. (Her research=subject, changed=verb)

  • EXAMPLE: The archaeologist whose program we watched on the History Channel discovered a lost Greek city. (we=subject, watched=verb, his program=object)

Try this exercise to practice with subject and object relative pronouns:

Here is one to practice combining sentences with adjective clauses:

With this one, you can practice with “who” (subject) and “whom” (object):

And here are a few to practice with the relative pronouns who, which, and whose:

 

Transition Words

Transition words, also known as “conjunctive adverbs,” can be great fun! FURTHERMORE, they are useful tools for improving the clarity and quality of a piece of writing.

These words and phrases allow us to connect ideas (mainly in formal, written English) in a variety of ways.  FOR EXAMPLE, we might use them to add information, contrast ideas, or inform the reader of time relationships between events.  IN ADDITION, transition words can be used to introduce a summary of ideas and connect clauses that show cause and effect. So many possibilities!
Transition words are an important tool in written communication. HOWEVER, if they are used incorrectly, they can do more harm than good.  THEREFORE, let’s get some practice and make sure we know how to use them…

Check out these websites to get some practice with transition words (and some other types of connectors)

Some Transition Word Videos: