Can you be more specific?

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Something we don’t pay much attention to at lower levels are the so-called relative clauses. I think that knowing some of these is useful in many situations.

Let’s look at a few examples.

The girl works in my office.

Who? What girl? Do we know her?

No, we don’t.

What about this:

The girl who I met at the cafe works in my office.

A waitress relaxing

You must have heard me talk about her and by adding this extra information, it’s easier for you to understand whom I’m talking about.

These sentences that tell us who or what we’re talking about (the subject) are called defining relative clauses.

But what if I wanted to tell you more about someone or something?

I’m tired of people.

Does this give you any idea who I’m talking about? What people? What exactly am I tired of? Probably not. I can add more information by saying:

I’m tired of people. People that spend a lot of time on their phones.

People using their phones

As you can see, now I gave you a better answer, but I repeated some of the information that I gave you before. In this case we can describe the people by using the word who:

I’m tired of people who spend a lot of time on their phones.

This is what we call non-defining relative clauses and they give us more information about the person or thing we’re talking about.

Here’s a small list of words we can use and when we use them:

  • Who (When we talk about people)
  • Which (When we talk about things or animals)
  • Whose (When we refer to possessions of people, things or animals)
  • That (We can use it instead of who or which)

Now, let’s practice using these words.

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