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Relative clauses – non-defining relative clauses

Do you know how to give extra information about someone or something using relative clauses?

Look at these examples to see how non-defining relative clauses are used.

Jack, who's retired now, spends a lot of time with his grandchildren.
We want to see the new Tom Carter film, which was released on Friday.
My sister, whose dog I'm looking after, is visiting a friend in Australia.

Try this exercise to test your grammar.

Grammar test 1

Grammar B1–B2: Relative clauses – non-defining relative clauses: 1

Read the explanation to learn more.

Grammar explanation

Relative clauses give us information about the person or thing mentioned.

Non-defining relative clauses give us extra information about someone or something. It isn't essential for understanding who or what we are talking about.

My grandfatherwho's 87, goes swimming every day.
The house, which was built in 1883, has just been opened to the public.
The award was given to Sara, whose short story impressed the judges

We always use a relative pronoun or adverb to start a non-defining relative clause: who, which, whose, when or where (but not that). We also use commas to separate the clause from the rest of the sentence.

who, which and whose

We can use who to talk about people, which to talk about things and whose to refer to the person or thing that something belongs to.

Yesterday I met my new boss, who was very nice.
The house, which is very big, is also very cold!
My next-door neighbour, whose children go to school with ours, has just bought a new car.
After the port there is a row of fisherman's houses, whose lights can be seen from across the bay.

Places and times

We can use which with a preposition to talk about places and times. In these cases it's more common to use where or when instead of which and the preposition.

City Park, which we used to go to, has been closed down.
City Park, where we used to go, has been closed down.
December, which Christmas is celebrated in, is a summer month for the southern hemisphere.
December, when Christmas is celebrated, is a summer month for the southern hemisphere.

However, when we use which without a preposition, we can't use where or when.

Centre Park, which we love, is always really busy on Saturdays.
February, which is my favourite month, lasts 29 days this year.

Do this exercise to test your grammar again.

Grammar test 2

Grammar B1–B2: Relative clauses – non-defining relative clauses: 2

 

Language level

Intermediate: B1

Comments

Dear team,
I'm slightly confused about this.
e.g, City Park, which we used to go to, has been closed down.
e.g, City Park, where we used to go, has been closed down.
From the examples, it show that "where" is used in the sentences without preposition. But, the explanation said that I can't use "where" or "when" without preposition.
However, when we use which without a preposition, we can't use where or when.
e.g, Centre Park, which we love, is always really busy on Saturdays.
e.g, February, which is my favourite month, lasts 29 days this year.
Thanks a lot

Hello Sir. I don't understand what is this mean. (When we use "which"
with a preposition, we can't use "where or which.")

Hello again Arjun Yadav,

I don't understand that, either. Does my answer to your comment below help you understand this?

All the best,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello sir

In these sentences,
" The hostel, where we've stayed at several times, is simple but clean."
" I sometimes go and study in my local park, where I can get some fresh air".
why we cannot use "which" instead of "where(s)"?

Hello Arjun Yadav,

Notice that in the example sentences in the explanation above, the relative clause begins with 'which' when a preposition of place (like 'to' or 'in') is used and it begins with 'where' when there is no preposition:

City Park, which we used to go to, has been closed down.
City Park, where we used to go, has been closed down.

The first of your two sentences is not correct -- it has 'where' and the preposition 'at'. You could correct it by saying 'where we've stayed several times' or 'at which we've stayed several times'.

The second of your two sentences is correct, but, as you say, you can't use 'which' in it. This is because there is no preposition that would work in the prepositional clause. You could change it to put a preposition there, e.g. 'I study in my local park, which I go to to get fresh air'.

Hope this helps.

All the best,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello sir,

Relative clause defining: The woman who lives next door works in a bank.

Relative clause non-defijing: My grandfather, who's 87, goes swimming every day.

Cal you please explain the difference between these two sentences in terms of how “relative clause defining” is different from “relative clause non-defining”?

Hello Chekytan,

We're happy to help you with a specific question, but if you are seeking explanations of relative clauses, please see the explanations above, on this page, and on this page.

All the best,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello sir,

I have read the explanation of both defining and non-defining relative clauses.

I just want to know the different between following examples.

Relative clause defining: The woman who lives next door works in a bank.

Relative clause non-defijing: My grandfather, who's 87, goes swimming every day.

In reference to above example, how defining relative clause is different from non-defining relative clause?

Dear sir,

Kindly reply.

Dear Kirk sir,

I have gone through many different examples and explanation again and again, and I am finally able to understand the difference between them.

Thank You.

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