Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Adjective Clauses and Relative Pronouns

"The Waterfall" Henri Rousseau, 1910

Combine the two sentences. Change the underlined pronoun in the second sentence to a relative pronoun such as "that", "who", or "whose". Make sure your adjective clause immediately follows the noun it modifies, even if you have to break the main clause.

After writing the sentences, listen to each correct sentence and repeat it after the speaker.

1. I like people. They are good listeners.

2. I bought a computer. It doesn't work very well.

3. She's a woman. She always eats nutritious food.

4. This is the camera. I bought it last week.

5. These are the photographs. I told you about them.

6. I notice people. They wear colorful clothes.

7. I finally bought the dress. I tried it on three times yesterday.

8. The movie wasn't very interesting. I saw it last night.

9. I know a teacher. Her classes are always full.

10. She's the excellent nurse. I wanted to tell you about her.

11. I didn't like the car. I test drove it yesterday.

12. The clown made everyone laugh. He rode backwards on an elephant.

13. The airplane landed successfully. It almost crashed.

14. Alan was hit by a flowerpot. It had fallen off a windowsill.

15. Then, he was splashed by a car. It had driven through a mud puddle.

16. My neighbor complains about my stereo. His tenants play drums loudly until midnight.

17. I have a good friend. He lives in Brazil.

18. I admire people. They aren't afraid to work hard.

19. The house is no longer for sale. I checked it out yesterday.

20. Some of the students are in the G.E.D. program. I taught them last year.

21. The boy was bitten by a dog. He delivers our newspapers.

22. Both dogs chased the ball. I threw it as far as I could.

23. The nurse gave the patient an injection. It made him go to sleep.

24. Students should take them to the hall. Their cell phones ring in class.

25. The apartment is downtown. My friends have rented it.

For more information on relative pronouns and relative clauses, see the Owl Purdue Writing Lab.


  1. Great blog, thanks very much! To all readers: I recommend practising these sentences out loud without reading them on the page, and not just writing them down. It's much much easier to use correct grammar in conversations if you've practised it beforehand!

  2. I couldn't agree more. The more you actually speak the grammar in sentences, the more you embed the structures in your subconscious. I would encourage students to do this with all of their written grammar activities, whether they be filling in the blanks with correct verb tenses, or doing sentence combining activities with a variety of different clauses. Practicing changing direct speech to reported speech out loud is also extremely useful in helping you internalize the grammar.

  3. Thank you very much for your comments, Monica and Michelle. Your feedback is very important to me. I agree with you that speaking the sentences allows you to absorb the structures better. On this blog, you can also find Grammartalk which gives the students opportunities to use the grammar in conversations.

  4. Dear John,

    your lessons are great and helpful. This is a very modern way to teach English by putting together grammar and sound practice i.e. pronunciation and intonations. Thanks.

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  6. Dear John,
    Please put options, I'm tired to write.

  7. John,

    Grammar practice is important for the TOEFL iBT also. One of my students at my Online TOEFL Course at did not see the importance of grammar for the exam. She said, "You are emphasizing on grammar section in each program . I guess its because it 'may' be use in writing and speaking." She overlooked the importance, for example, in understanding and using adjective clause structures during the speaking and writing sections of the exam. Being able to use adjective clauses and other complex sentences such as noun clauses and adverb clauses demonstrates automaticity of language use.

    Anyway thanks for creating these grammar practice exercises so that non-native speakers can have chances to improve their language use.

    Michael Buckhoff

  8. Thanks for this extremely helpful exercise. Would it be possible to include a sentence with each of the correct adjective clause pronouns in the answer box? For example, your sentence 10 has 5 possible correct adjective clauses: "about whom I wanted to tell you," "whom I wanted to tell you about," "who I wanted to tell you about," "that I wanted to tell you about," and "I wanted to tell you about." Without knowing what kind of instruction each student who visits your page has received, it seems it would be helpful to include all possibilities in the written answers, at least. It seems too complicated to include all possibilities in the taped answers--maybe the relative pronoun "that" could be used for consistency?

  9. nigga, who gave the comments, are nuts and dumbass. That's my example LOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOL

  10. nigga, who gave the comments, are nuts and dumbass. That's my example LOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOL

  11. Thanks for this extremely helpful exercise :)

  12. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  14. Hi, I am wondering that in the sentences #10 and #20, where you only use who/which/whom or with nothing, can we use "that", since only restrictive clause can use without who/whom/which/that?
    Thanks a lot.