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1. Clause is a group of words that includes a subject and a verb. It may be a sentence or the part of a sentence.
2. There are three kinds of clauses:
(i) Noun clause
(ii) Adverbial clause
(iii) Relative clause
3. Noun Clause:
Read the following sentences:
(a) I hope that I shall pass:.(noun clause)
(b) She knows what I want. (noun clause)
The underlined words are noun clauses and form parts of the sentences (a) and (b).
The noun clauses answer the question what?
The that-clause following the main clause ‘I hope’ is also a noun clause just as ‘What I want’ is a noun clause which follows the main clause ‘she knows’.
4. Noun clauses begin with the following connectives:
(i) Pronouns: what, which, who, whom, whose.
(ii) Adverbs: when, where, why, how.
(iii) Conjunctions: if, that, whether.
(i) You can see what we have done.
Can you tell me who had done it?
I don’t know which book he has bought.
I can’t say whom I should believe.
(ii) I can’t tell you when he will come.
Please tell me why he is always late.
I don’t know where he has gone.
Does anyone know how it has happened?
(iii) I wonder if the weather is going to be all right.
She asked whether the train will leave on time.
I can tell you that he is a good boy.
5. Functions of Noun Clauses:
Noun clauses function like nouns or noun phrases. They can function as subject, object, complement, or object of a preposition, etc:
What you said surprised me.
When she will come is uncertain.
Whether he will help you will be known soon.
That he would come is seemed unlikely.
How he crossed the border is a mystery.
Why he came here is still unknown to us.
He says that he will help me.
don’t know who gave him this advice.
Our belief is that he will help us.
This is what you are looking for.
(d) Object of Preposition:
(e) Complement of an Adjective:
(f) Object of an Infinitive:
(g) In Apposition to a Noun (Noun + Noun clause)
(h) Object of a Participle:
6. Adverbial Clauses of Condition:
The adverbial clause of condition is introduced by if, unless, whether:
The underlined words in the above sentences form the adverbial clauses of condition. A conditional clause is a subordinate clause and expresses a condition.
(i) In an if-clause referring to a likely or possible situation in the future, the simple present tense is used. The future tense is used in the main clause:
Generally the main clause has the form: shall/will/may/can/must+first form of the verb:
(ii) In an if-clause referring to a condition that always has the same result, the simple present is used. The simple tense is used in the main clause too:
(iii) If a conditional clause refers to an unlikely or impossible situation in the present or future, the simple past tense is used. In the main clause, we use ‘should, ‘could , ‘might’, ‘would’, etc + first form of the verb:
(iv) If a conditional clause refers to something that did not happen in the past, the past perfect tense is used. In the main clause, we use would have/should have/could have/might have + third form of the verb:
But when the main clause is about the present, ‘would’, ‘could, ‘might’, etc. without have is used:
(v) If a conditional clause refers to an unlikely situation in the future, ‘were to’ or ‘should’ followed by an infinitive, is sometimes used instead of the simple past tense:
(vi) ‘If only’ is used to express a wish with reference to present or future time:
(vii) ‘If only’ is used to express a wish that past events had been different:
7. Adverbial Clauses of Time:
Adverbial clauses of time are used to say when something happens by referring to a period of time or to another event. The subordinating conjunctions after, before, since, when, while, whenever, till, as, etc. are used.
8. Relative Clauses:
The relative clause does the function of an adjective in a sentence. That is why it is also called an adjective clause. We put a relative clause immediately after the noun which refers to the person, thing, or group we are talking about.
A relative clause is essential to the clear understanding of the noun it defines or qualifies.
For example: ‘Who came into the house ’ is a relative clause without which it will not be clear to which ‘boy’ we are referring.
9. Defining and Non-defining Relative Clauses:
There are two kinds of relative clauses—defining and non-defining relative clauses. Defining relative clauses limit the noun or pronoun to which they refer to a particular type or examples. They answer the questions which!, what? whose? In the two example sentences above the relative clauses restrict “the boy’ and ‘the house’ to a particular ‘boy ’ or a particular ‘house’.
Non-defining clauses simply give us additional information about the nouns, pronouns and clauses to which they refer.
There are some general rules which should be noted about relative clauses and relative pronouns:
(i) A non-defining clause is separated by commas (see the above sentence).
(ii) A defining clause is not separated by commas.
(iii) In a non-defining clause the relative pronoun cannot be omitted.
(iv) In a defining clause, we can omit the relative pronoun except when it is the subject of a verb:
In this sentence, the relative pronoun is omitted. But we cannot omit it in the following sentence:
(v) In a non-defining clause the preposition governing the relative is rarely placed at the end of the clause:
(vi) In a defining clause the preposition governing the relative is generally placed at the end of the clause:
(vii) The relative pronouns ‘which’, ‘who’, ‘whose’, ‘whom’ are found in both defining and non-defining clauses. But the pronoun ‘that’ is only found in defining clauses.
(viii) The relative pronouns differ according to whether they refer to persons or things and according to their case:
Whom, who, that
Whose, of Which
(ix) Relative clauses are introduced by relative adverbs ‘where’, ‘”when’, ‘why’.
10. Use of Pronouns for Persons:
(i) In the nominative case, we use ‘who’ or ‘that’. ‘That’ is used after superlatives and after all, nobody, no one, somebody, someone, anybody, etc. when we can use either ‘who’ or ‘that’:
(ii) In the objective case, we use ‘whom’, ‘who’, ‘that’. ‘ Whom is considered more formal than ‘who’. However, in spoken English we use ‘who’ or ‘that’. There is a tendency to omit the objective relative pronoun altogether:
(iii) We use ‘whom’ or ‘that’ with a preposition.
Generally, the preposition is placed before the relative pronoun:
The boy to whom I was speaking is my neighbour. In informal speech, the preposition is usually moved to the end of the clause and then ‘whom’ is often replaced by ‘that’ or it is omitted:
(iv) In the possessive case, we use the relative pronoun ‘whose’:
11. Use of Pronouns for Things:
(i) In the nominative case, the relative pronouns ‘which’ and ‘that’ are used. Which is considered more formal:
(ii) In the objective case, we use ‘which’ or ‘that’ or omit the relative pronoun:
We generally use ‘that’ after all, much, little, everything, none, no and compounds of no or after superlatives or we omit the relative pronoun altogether.
(iii) When we use the objective case with a preposition, we place the preposition before ‘which’. But it is more usual to move it to the end of the clause, using ‘which’ or ‘that’ or we omit the relative pronoun altogether:
(iv) In the possessive case, we use the relative pronoun ‘whose’:
12. Relative Pronouns used in Non-defining Clauses:
of which, whose
13. Use for Persons
(i) In the nominative case, only ‘who’ is used:
(ii) In the objective case, we use ‘whom’ and “who’. ‘Who’ is sometimes used in conversation:
(iii) ‘Whom’ is used with a preposition in the objective case. We can also use ‘ who’ if we move the preposition to the end of the clause:
(iv) We use ‘whose’ in the possessive case:
14. Use for Things:
(i) We use ‘which’ in the nominative case:
(ii) In the objective also, we use ‘which’:
(iii) The relative pronoun ‘which’ is also used with a preposition:
(iv) In the possessive case, ‘whose’ or ‘of which’ are used:
15. Relative Adverbs:
The relative adverbs ‘when’, ‘where’, ‘why’ are used to replace a preposition and the relative pronoun ‘which’.