Using the adjective clause

An adjective clause is a kind of dependent clause. An adjective clause (also known as a relative clause) alone cannot make a sentence. It has to be attached to another clause which can stand on its own.

Adjective clauses can be introduced by that, who, which, whom, where, whose, when and why.

An adjective clause can be used to modify a noun, a phrase or a whole clause.

Study the examples given below.

  • I enjoy reading books that make me think. (Here the adjective clause ‘that make me think’ modifies the noun books.)

Note that when an adjective clause modifies a noun, it goes immediately after that noun.

  • I gave him a candy which he ate at once. (Here the adjective clause ‘which he ate at once’ modifies the noun candy.)
  • He writes books that motivate people to do great things. (Here the adjective clause ‘that motivate people to do great things’ modifies the noun books.)


Use ‘who’ to refer to people.

Use ‘which’ to refer to things and animals.

Use ‘that’ to refer to both people and things.

An adjective clause can modify a phrase. Study the example given below.

  • I enjoy writing books, which I can do at home. (Here the adjective clause ‘which I can do at home’ modifies the phrase ‘writing books’.)

An adjective clause can also modify a whole clause.

  • I went on a date with Rahul, which made Shyam jealous. (Here the adjective clause ‘which made Shyam jealous’ modifies the entire clause ‘I went on a date with Rahul’.)

The above sentence can also be written as:

  • The fact that I went on a date with Rahul made Shyam jealous.
  • She married her boss, which upset her parents. (= The fact that she married her boss upset her parents.)
  • She got married again six months later, which surprised everybody. (= The fact that she got married again six months later surprised everybody.)

Manjusha Nambiar

Hi, I'm Manjusha. This is my blog where I give IELTS preparation tips.

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