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Group One Adjective Clauses

A good type to start with is the Subject-Object sentence. Let's look at an example.

The man whom Tom saw in the park is an old friend from school.

In explaining this sentence it's helpful to start by asking students to identify the verbs and then the subjects.

   For example:  

Since a clause consists of a subject and a verb (for active clauses), we can see that the sentence above has two clauses. The one that could be a sentence all by itself is the independent clause while the one with the relative pronoun is the dependent clause. In this case, our dependent clause is an adjective clause.

Question: How do we know it's an adjective clause and not some other type of dependent clause?

It's an adjective clause because of what it does, not because it starts with whom. Many of the relative pronouns found in adjective clauses also appear as subordinators in other types of dependent clauses. We know that “whom Tom saw in the park” is an adjective clause because it does the job of an adjective. It describes the noun, man.

Ok. So we know this sentence has an adjective clause in it, but how do we know it's a Subject-Object sentence? To answer this question we must first identify the object(s) in our adjective clause. In the example, the direct object is whom. The adjective clause also contains a secondary object of a preposition, the park.

   For example:  

Question: How do we know that whom is the object?

Object-Subject-Verb is not the way English clauses are normally arranged, so it's sometimes confusing to students to call whom an object. However, this confusion can be cleared by separating the adjective clause from the sentence and rearranging it a little.

          Tom saw whom in the park.

Since whom means the man, we can also look at this sentence as...

   For example:  

The Subject-Object sentence gets its name from the fact that in the place where the independent clause and adjective clause meet for the first time, we have a subject next to an object. This naming convention holds true for all of the adjective clause types.

   For example:  

Now let's take a look at the second type of clause in group one, the Object-Object sentence, with an example

          I know the man whom Tom saw in the park.

After identifying the subjects, verbs, and objects, we can find the independent clause and the adjective clause. We can also see that the object of the independent clause is directly next to the object of the adjective clause, thus giving the sentence its name.

   For example:  

The key difference is not the actual adjective clause, but where it is in the sentence. At this point we have the basic format for group one clauses, and can simply substitute in other relative pronouns to describe things, places, and times.

Group One clauses can be reduced in their active form [Relative Pronoun deletion], or reduced and fronted in their passive forms. Let's begin with an examination of the active relative pronoun deletion.


page last modified: May 31, 2016

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