Exercise 2

Choose the correct relative pronoun or adverb for the following defining and non-defining  relative clauses.

1 My sister, is now living in New York, has just had a baby.

2 Can you give me the number of the plumber repaired your shower?

3 I'd like to eat at the restaurant we met.

4 Thanks for the wine you brought us.

5 The car, cost more than 20,000 dollars, was a present from his family.

6 The company, workers are now being forced to stay home, will probably go bankrupt.

7 This is the bar I work.

8 I'll always remember the day we met.

9 Joe was carrying a gun, was fortunate, because it saved our lives.

10 You should write a thank you email to the lady assisted you the night of the accident.



Defining vs non-defining – grammar chart

Defining and non-defining relative clauses

Defining relative clauses

Defining relative clauses carry essential information, because they identify which thing or person we are talking about, and they are used without commas.

  • This is the music which was used at the show
  • Have they found the prisoner who escaped last week?


We can use that

In defining relative clauses we can use that instead of which or who.

  • This is the music that was used at the show. 
  • Have they found the prisoner that escaped last week?


When can we omit who/which/that?

Who/which/that, can be omitted if they are followed by subject + verb

  • Can you pass me the box (which/that) I keep in the top drawer?
  • You are not the man (who/that) I thought you were. 


Non-defining relative clauses

Non-defining relative clauses are used between commas, and they add extra information which is not necessary to know who or what we are talking about.

  • This music, which I really like, was used at the show.
  • My sister, who I truly admire, is coming for Thanksgiving. 


We cannot use that, and we cannot omit who/which

In non-defining relative clauses (between commas) we cannot use that, and we cannot omit who/which.

  • This music, that I really like, was used at the show. 
  • My sister, I truly admire, is coming for Thanksgiving. 


Defining vs non-defining relative clauses

In a defining relative clause the information is essential to identify who or what we are talking about, whereas in non-defining relative clauses we just add extra the information, which is not necessary. Compare:

  • My brother who lives in Cardiff is much older than me. (=I have more than one brother and the relative clause helps identify which brother I am talking about)
  • My brother, who lives in Cardiff, is much older than me. (=I have only one brother, so we don’t need the relative clause to know who I am talking about)


Relative pronouns and adverbs

Here you can see a grammar chart with the relative pronouns and adverbs that we normally use in relative clauses.
Relative clauses - Relative pronouns and relative adverbs

Common mistakes


Two subjects

When who, which or that is the subject of a relative clause, we don’t use another pronoun or noun after it, because we can only have one subject (who, which or that).

  • I saw a man who was very tall. (NOT: I saw a man who he was very tall.)
  • That is the painting that was stolen from the gallery. (NOT: That is the painting that it was stolen from the gallery.)


that between commas

We cannot use the relative pronoun that in a non-defining relative clause (between commas)

  • The victim, who suffered a concussion, said he didn’t remember the accident. (NOT, The victim, that suffered a concussion, said he didn’t remember the accident.)