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What is a relative clause?



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.


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


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

Comrie 1989 143–144

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

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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