Sentence Diagramming: Flashcard 17

An adjective clause is a clause that modifies a noun or any word or words that substitute for a noun. There are two kinds of adjective clauses: those introduced by a relative pronoun and those introduced by a relative adverb. Adjective clauses introduced by relative pronouns (who, whom, whose, which, and that, among other words) are called relative clauses. Every relative pronoun has an antecedent, i.e., a preceding word or words to which the relative pronoun refers. A relative pronoun agrees with its antecedent in number, and gender* but not in case. It takes its case from its use in its own clause. A good understanding of this allows one to choose confidently between who and whom. Here are some sentences with relative clauses: "That is the man whom (or that) we saw at the game" (the relative pronoun whom, or that, is the direct object in its clause), "Do you know the person who (or that) wrote this book?" (the relative pronoun who, or that, is the subject of its clause), "They are the neighbors whose cat was stolen" (whose is a relative pronoun in the possessive case), "Distracted, Joe nearly pulled out in front of a fast-moving truck, which made him look twice at the next intersection" (the antecedent of the relative pronoun which is not truck but the entire clause he nearly pulled out in front of a fast-moving truck).  

Often, when the relative pronoun whom or that is a direct object or the object of a preposition, we omit it. Examples: "That is the man we saw at the game" (the relative pronoun whom or that, the direct object of the verb saw, is unexpressed), "Those are the tools I work with every day" (the relative pronoun that, the object of the preposition with, is unexpressed). An x is used in diagramming to represent an unexpressed relative pronoun.

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The indefinite relative pronouns whoever, whomever, whosever, whichever, and whatever (along with those with an inserted so, such as whosoever) ordinarily do not have expressed antecedents. Examples: "'Ill give a bonus point to whoever can tell me what page were on,' said the frustrated French teacher" (whoever is the subject of the relative clause), "They plan to give the money to whomever they find in the shelter" (whomever is the direct object in its own clause).

The word what can mean that which. When it does, it is considered a relative pronoun. Example: "They did what the lieutenant ordered." In this sentence, an unexpressed that, the direct object of the verb did, is the antecedent of what, a relative pronoun. What is the direct object of the verb ordered.

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Some adjective clauses are introduced not by relative pronouns but by relative adverbs. Here are three examples: "That is the reason why I was late" (why, equivalent here to the prepositional phrase "for which," is a relative adverb), "From here you can see the hospital where our children were born (where a relative adverb, is equivalent to "in which"), "Clayton remembers a time when candy bars cost five cents" (the relative adverb when is equivalent to "at which"). See Flashcards 16 and 22 for additional uses of relative adverbs.

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On the right is a diagram of the sentence "The woman he married, who immigrated to the States as a child, wants to travel to the country where she was born." The sentence contains three adjective clauses. The first adjective clause is introduced by an unexpressed relative pronoun that functions as a direct object and whose antecedent is woman. The relative pronoun who is the subject of the second adjective clause; the antecedent of who is likewise woman. The third adjective clause is introduced by the relative adverb where (equivalent to "in which"). An infinitive phrase is the direct object of the verb wants. Child is an appositive; as is an expletive. Other expletives used with appositives include or, namely, and for example. In diagramming, a broken diagonal line connects the relative pronoun to its antecedent. The solid part of the line that connects the where-clause to the main clause represents the prepositional phrase "in which." The entire diagonal line connects the unexpressed relative pronoun which to its antecedent, country. On Flashcard 18: noun clauses.

* Relative pronouns also agree with their antecedents in person. Notice the subject-verb agreement in this sentence: You, who are my child, love me, and I, who am your father, love you.

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