As we have seen, an adjective clause in a complex sentence is a type of dependent clauses which does the work of an adjective and so qualifies some noun or pronoun in the independent clause.

An adjective clause is introduced by a relative pronoun or by a relative adverb; as,

  • Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown.

  • He is the man whom we all respect.

  • The time when the boat leaves is not yet fixed.

  • The house where the accident occurred is nearby.

  • The reason why I did it is obvious.

Sometimes, however, a relative pronoun introduces a coordinate clause; as,

I met Anne, who (=and he) gave me this letter.

He were using the relative pronoun who to introduce the clause. You should note that this clause, who gave me your message, is NOT an adjective clause because it does not identify or describe Anne. This is in fact a compound sentence and “who” means “and he”

Now see the following sentence:

He is the boy who broke the window.

The clause, who broke the window, clearly identifies and describes the boy, and is therefore an adjective clause.

The relative pronoun or the relative adverb, introducing an adjective clause, is sometimes understood and omitted; as,

  • Drink all (that) you can.

  • I saw a girl (whom) I know.

  • Where is the food (which) he left for me?

  • On the day (that) you pass the test I will give you a present.

In order English but was used as a relative pronoun as in the sentences below. In such cases but is equivalent to a relative pronoun followed by not.

  • There was not a women present but wept to hear such news. [That is, who did not weep to hear such news.]

  • Nor is there a man here but loved our Caesar. [That is, who did not love our Caesar.]

  • There is no fireside but has one vacant chair. [That has not one vacant chair.]

Note that than is sometimes used as a preposition before a relative pronoun in the adjective clause; as,

  • They elected Sunil than whom no better boy ever went to school.

  • It was a blow than which no crueler was ever struck.

  • We came to a spot than which mine eyes have seldom seen a lovelier.

The infinitive with to is often used as the equivalent of an Adjective Clause

  • Give me some food which I may eat.

   Give me some food to eat.

  • He has no boots which he can wear.

   He has no boots to wear.

  • The doctor has given me medicine which I must take.

   The doctor has given me medicine to take.

  • I have work which I must do.

   I have work to do.

Complex Sentence: Adjective Clauses
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