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What is a relative clause?

 

Definition
 

A relative clause is a clause which describes the referent of a head noun or pronoun.

 

It often restricts the reference of the head noun or pronoun.

Discussion
 

A relative clause is not necessarily a constituent of the noun phrase containing the head noun it modifies.

 
Example
 

The plumber arrived who we had called earlier. (Who we had called earlier has been extraposed from its normal position after plumber and is not a member of the noun phrase containing plumber.)

Examples (English)
 
  • The man who went
  • Passengers leaving on Flight 738
 
Source:

Comrie 1989 143–144

Kinds
  Here are some kinds of relative clauses:
 
Generic
  A relative clause is a kind of
 
Sources
 

Hartmann and Stork 1972 5, 195

 

Pei and Gaynor 1954 6

 

Crystal 1980 303

 

Thompson and Longacre 1985 172

 

Keenan 1985 141–142

 

Mish 1991 994

 

Quirk, Greenbaum, Leech, and Svartvik 1985 1245

 

Comrie 1989 142–144


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Go to SIL home page This page is an extract from the LinguaLinks Library, Version 5.0 published on CD-ROM by SIL International, 2003. [Ordering information.]

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