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Defining relative clause Exercises

( Free Online English Grammar Lessons )

Read time : 2 minutes

In English we use defining relative clauses to give important information about a person, place or thing.

We use :

"who" or "that" for people

  • He's the man who lives next door.
  • She's the woman that works in the cafe.
  • People who smoke often develop breathing problems.

"which" or "that" for things

  • A clock is a thing which tells the time.
  • This is the letter that I was talking about.
  • This is the dress that I bought for $5.
  • The novel that I am reading is part of a trilogy.

"where" for places where an activity takes place

  • A post office is a place where you can buy stamps.
  • This is the restaurant where we had our first date.
  • Perth is the city where I grew up.

"whose" for possessives

  • Jason is the boy whose parents own the newsagent.
  • That's the girl whose mother is a ballet dancer.

"when" for times

  • My grandmother lived at a time when women were expected to become either teachers or nurses.

Note : We don't use "what" in relative clauses!

eg. These are the jeans that I want to buy. NOT These are the jeans what I want to buy.

In defining relative clauses, we can leave out "who", "that" or "which" when these words aren't the subject of the defining relative clause.

  • He's the man (that) I met yesterday.
  • Mary found the watch (that) I lost last week.

We never leave out "whose'" in defining relative clauses. We can leave out "where" if we add a preposition at the end of the relative clause.

  • That's the city where I was born. = That's the city I was born in.

We can leave out "when" if the time reference is clear.

  • Next Tuesday is the day (when) my sister arrives.

Note : We don't use commas with defining relative clauses.

Defining relative clause example sentences
Do you remember the French restaurant we went to before?
Yes, of course, he is the nicest man I've ever known!
Where I'm supposed to be having the meeting.
I don't know, maybe I like seeing the canals going around the buildings.
What's the reason you don't want to leave the house?
You know the people who take tourists sightseeing on bicycles?
You're the one who's been living here longer than me.
Yes, because it's the only French restaurant we have been to.
They are the kind of people who like to party...
It's nice to have a landlord who fixes things before we know about them!
What about the houses you found?
Do you remember those girls we met last week?
The one you told me shouted at you before...
There is an old guy on the phone who can't hear anything I say...
And I tried to find the rice I was talking about.
You could have asked if she knew the girl you were going to meet.
Is there any news from the houses you went to see today?
And you could be the first man I've known who doesn't snore.


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Be going to
Be going to passive
Be used to / Get used to
Defining relative clause
Echo tag
First conditional
Future continuous
Future perfect continuous
Future perfect passive
Future perfect simple
Future simple passive
Have/Get something done
Implied conditional
Indirect question
Infinitive of purpose
Mixed conditional
Modal passive
Non-defining relative clause
Past continuous
Past continuous passive
Past perfect continuous
Past perfect passive
Past perfect simple
Past simple
Past simple passive
Polite request / offer / suggestion
Present continuous
Present continuous passive
Present perfect continuous
Present perfect passive
Present perfect simple
Present simple
Present simple passive
Question tag
Reduced relative clause
Reported speech imperative
Reported speech question
Reported speech request
Reported speech statement
Second conditional
Short answer
Third conditional
Used to / would (past habit)
Was/were going to
Was/were supposed to
Would rather
Zero conditional