Using relative clauses

Home learning focus

Learn how to use relative clauses to add detail to a setting description.

This lesson includes:

  • two videos

  • three activities

Learn

Remind yourself what relative clauses are by watching this video.

Relative clauses with Max and Harvey

Watch this video to understand what relative clauses are and how they can be used in your writing.

Using relative clauses

Relative clauses

A relative clause can be used to give additional information about a noun (naming word). They are introduced by a relative pronoun like 'that', 'which', 'who', 'whose', 'where' and 'when'.

For example: 'I won’t stand by the man who smells of slime'.

They can be used to create complex sentences as they are a type of subordinate clause. A subordinate clause is a part of a sentence that adds additional information to the main clause.

Relative clauses come directly after the noun they are referring to. This might be at the end of a sentence or embedded into the middle of a sentence. If it is embedded into the middle of a sentence, the relative clause is usually surrounded by commas.

Relative Pronouns

Relative clauses are introduced by a relative pronoun. The relative pronoun used depends on the person or type of thing you are writing about. Relative pronouns include:

  • ‘Who’ - A person or people.
  • ‘Which’ - An object, a place or animals.
  • ‘That’ - An object, a place or a person.
  • 'When’ - A time.
  • ‘Where’ - A place.

Example

  • Two simple sentences: ‘Milly played her ukulele to her sister Martha. She was in her bedroom.’

Below, the relative pronoun, ‘who’, is used to create a relative clause so these two simple sentences can be connected. ‘She was in her bedroom’ is extra information, so this forms the relative clause.

  • Relative clause sentence:

‘Milly, who was in her bedroom, played her ukulele to her sister Martha.'

Practise

You may need paper and a pen or pencil for some of these activities.

Activity 1

Can you highlight the relative clauses in the text?

Activity 2

1) Look at this picture of a bear.

Bear in the forest with cubs

2) Now, think about what the bear might be able to hear, smell, feel or taste as it hides.

3) Write three sentences about the picture that include both:

  • a relative clause
  • one of the five senses

Examples

The tall trees, that were shielding the bear, creaked and moaned. The cute bear, who could taste honey on his lips, felt the tree dance in the wind as he hid behind it.

Top Tip!

Remember, if you take the relative clause out of your sentence, it should still make sense.

Activity 3

You can either print out this activity sheet or write your answers on a piece of paper.

Explore relative clauses more by trying this fun activity.

Relative clauses worksheet

Where next?

In this lesson you have learnt about relative clauses.

There are other useful articles on Bitesize to help you to understand more about relative clauses and subordinating conjunctions:

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