Adjective Clauses

What is an adjective clause?

An adjective clause (also called  adjectival clause) is a dependent clause which modifies a noun and usually begins with a relative pronoun (which, that, who, whom, whose) or a relative adverb (where, when, why).


  • Students who work hard get good grades.
    → The adjective clause who work hard modifies the noun students.
  • The book which you lent me is very interesting.
    → The adjective clause which you lent me modifies the noun the book.
  • Leila, whose father is a famous poet, invited me to her birthday party.
    → The adjective clause whose father is a famous poet modifies the noun Leila.
  • My grandmother remembers the days when there were no personal computers
    → The adjective clause when there were no personal computers modifies the noun the days.

There are two types of adjective clauses:

  • restrictive or defining clauses
  • non-restrictive or non-defining clauses

Restrictive / Defining Clauses

Restrictive (also called defining) clauses give essential information about the noun. These clauses don't require commas.


  • The man who is standing there is a secret agent.
  • The writer who won the Nobel Prize is from Colombia.

Non-restrictive / non-defining clauses

Non-restrictive (also called non-defining) clauses give extra or non-essential information about the noun. These clauses require commas.


  • Fast food, which most people love, is not very healthy at all.
  • My uncle, who is a farmer, lives in the countryside.

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