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Relative clauses

A relative pronoun is a word like “that” or “which” or “who”, so a relative clause is a clause that begins with a relative pronoun. In the sentence “The dragon who breathed blue fire has retired,” “who breathed blue fire” is a relative clause. Learn more about these constructions by watching the video! 

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  • piceratops seedling style avatar for user Rishabhspro
    At David calls "The Boy who lived" a noun phrase with the relative clause: "who lived". However is it not true that "The boy who lived" has both a subject and verb components. Therefore "The boy who lived" should be a clause. Should it not?
    (15 votes)
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  • male robot hal style avatar for user Rhitik Bhatt
    At ,

    The sentence--The woman who always wore a red hat came into the cafe every Sunday.

    As the information "who always wore a red hat", is extra, shouldn't it be separated by commas? So it becomes.

    The woman, who always wore a red hat, came into the cafe every Sunday.

    It's contradicted by the fact that we don't use a comma to separate a dependent clause (if it is not in the beginning of the sentence).

    Commas are hard!
    (2 votes)
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  • starky tree style avatar for user southside joji
    Is there a video about noun clauses?
    (6 votes)
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  • aqualine ultimate style avatar for user Somesh Sahu
    If "every sunday" is an extra information then why don't we highlight it with yellow colour ?
    (4 votes)
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  • mr pink orange style avatar for user RoninXYork
    isnt "the" a relative clause in "we need to find a store that sells "the" new willamette cold brew coffee ice cream"?
    (2 votes)
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    • piceratops ultimate style avatar for user FrozenPhoenix45
      No. Relative pronouns are words like "that" "which" and "who". They refer back to a noun or pronoun (usually the subject) already in the sentence. They can then form clauses, which is a complete thought involving a subject and a predicate. Relative pronouns are single words; relative clause are complete thoughts introduced by a relative pronoun.

      Let me give an example.

      "Who was the person that was president in 1805?"

      The word "that" is referring back to the word "person" and giving more detail and information to it by introducing the clause.

      However, the word "the" is an article, not a relative pronoun. It cannot refer back to anything previously in the sentence; it can only specify the words directly after it.

      So in the example in your question, the word "that" is your relative pronoun, because it refers back to the word "store". The relative clause is "that sells the new Williamette cold brew coffee ice cream", giving more information about the store.

      Does that make sense?
      (6 votes)
  • blobby green style avatar for user Olusegun Alaka
    You said "the boy who lived " is a noun phrase,isn't it a noun clause? Since it has a noun and a verb
    (3 votes)
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    • female robot amelia style avatar for user Johanna
      By the definition “can function as a single part of speech, it would be a noun phrase because, well, you could substitute it for one noun in a sentence. By the definition of containing a noun/subject and verb/predicate, though, I would agree that it’s also characteristic of a clause. More specifically, I’d break it down like this:

      The (article modifying “boy”)
      boy (noun)
      who (relative pronoun, subject of relative clause)
      lived (verb, predicate of the subject “who)

      In short, at least the way I see it, this is probably a noun phrase with a relative clause branching off of it.
      (3 votes)
  • leaf green style avatar for user madifraz
    where can i find a pic of rosie
    (2 votes)
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  • female robot ada style avatar for user Elexia  Fix
    So, couldn't you use, "That sells the new Willamette cold brew coffee ice cream" as a independent clause? '"That sells the new Willamette cold brew coffee ice cream" Said Maureen pointing at the stand ahead of us.'
    (1 vote)
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    • aqualine tree style avatar for user David Alexander
      This reminds me of President Clinton's defense, "That depends on what the meaning of is, is." So, let's try your example 2 ways.
      1) Maureen points at the stand ahead of us, at which ice cream is sold. "That (pronoun) sells the new Willamet cold brew coffee ice cream." GOOD SENTENCE.

      2) Maureen, a judge in district court, is pronouncing a sentence: "Sydney, you were so evil. Your sentence is to use a toothbrush to scrub up spills at the stand that sells the new Willamette cold brew coffee ice cream for the next 60 days." ("That" functions as a relative adjective)
      (3 votes)
  • blobby green style avatar for user Ronald Ho
    'The woman who always wore a red hat came into the cafe every Sunday.' Why 'wore' and 'came' are in past tense if this is a rountine for the woman?

    Could the sentence written as 'The woman who always wears a red hat came into the cafe every Sunday.' or 'The woman who always wears a red hat comes into the cafe every Sunday.'?
    (1 vote)
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  • leaf green style avatar for user Đinh Nguyễn Sơn Tùng

    "The woman who always WORE a red hat CAME into the cafe every Sunday"

    I don't know why you used past simple tense on this one, could you explain? Thanks!
    (2 votes)
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    • aqualine tree style avatar for user David Alexander
      "The woman who always WORE a red hat CAME into the cafe every Sunday"
      1) The first part of the sentence is a dependent noun clause. It functions as the subject of entire sentence.
      2) The event narrated in the sentence happened in the past. (Indicated by the main verb, came, being in the past).
      3) IF this repeated event is an ongoing thing, and the woman who always wears a red hat is still entering the cafe every Sunday, then the noun clause might use the simple present.
      4) HOWEVER, if the event narrated is something that was current in, say, 1954, and either the woman or the cafe or the practice no longer exists or happens, "Wore" is more accurate.
      5) But, anyway, the harmonization of the tenses makes for a smoother read.
      (0 votes)

Video transcript

- [David] Hello, grammarians, hello, Rosie. - [Rosie] Hi, David. - [David] So today we're gonna talk about a special kind of dependent clause, which again, is a kind of clause that can't be a sentence on its own called a relative clause. So a relative clause is a dependent clause that starts with a relative pronoun So okay, so a relative pronoun is a word like who or that or which or whose or where that like any pronoun, substitutes in for another part of the sentence. So for example, Harry Potter is also known as. - [Rosie] The boy who lived. - [David] The boy who lived. - [Rosie] Is that Dumbledore? - [David] Yeah, that's my Dumbledore. - [Rosie] I like it. - [David] Thank you. You can see in this little snippet who is subbing in for the boy, right, so it is behaving like a pronoun, but a relative pronoun, and so we've got this thing here, who lived. The boy lived, on its own, could be a sentence, but who lived cannot be. - [Rosie] Well who lived is describing the boy. - [David] So right now, all of this together is just a noun phrase, but who lived within this noun phrase is a relative clause. So, we need to find a store that sells the new Willamette cold brew coffee ice cream. - [Rosie] I've heard it's really good. - [David] So all of this together is a sentence. This is definitely a sentence We need to find a store that sells the new Willamette cold brew coffee ice cream. Like, indisputably, that is a sentence. We have our subject, we. We have our verb, need, and then the object of need is to find a store that sells the new Willamette cold brew coffee ice cream. But, we're focusing on this yellow part here, so that is substituting in for a store, that's what that relative pronoun is representing. And then we have that sells the new, so we've got store that sells, right? So that is our subject here. Sells is the verb The new Willamette cold brew coffee ice cream is the object of sells, and everything in yellow here, all this yellow text, is our relative clause. It cannot stand on its own as a sentence. You could not just have that sells the new Willamette cold brew coffee ice cream. On its own, that doesn't work because the very presence of this relative pronoun requires more stuff to go on. Well, let's make things a little more complicated. The woman who always wore a red hat came into the cafe every Sunday. So this sentence contains a relative clause right there in the middle of it, who always wore a red hat. All right, so we've got who substituting in for the woman and that's the subject of the verb phrase wore a red hat, but again, this could not be a sentence on its own. Now the challenge here is when you see sentences like this in the wild, then you see sentences like these in the exercises, they're not gonna be differentiated for your convenience with two different colors, so you have to be very careful to figure out where this dependent clause begins and ends. So you can parse, so you can make sense of this sentence, in order to make it work. So really what is this sentence actually saying, just on a base level? - [Rosie] The woman came into the cafe. - [David] Right, and so everything else, this every Sunday, or who always wore a red had, that is kinda extra, and so it's your job as a writer, reader and editor of text, as someone who is working with the English language, to puzzle it out and separate the sentence into its components. - [Rosie] Right, this is a who always wore a red hat is a description of the woman. - [David] Right. - [Rosie] Then we move on to the verb, the action of the sentence, what is she doing, she came into the cafe, so that's not part of that relative clause. The relative clause is just, in this case, providing some description of the woman. - [David] Right, so use your best sense because yes, it is possible that the red hat could be the thing that comes into the cafe every Sunday, but it's more likely that that hat is attached to the woman that was referenced earlier. - [Rosie] Right. - [David] So, that is a relative clause. You can learn anything. David out. - [Rosie] Rosie out.