As the title of today suggests, it’s a complaint I receive too often from English students here. Time to have a look at some grammar for the day. Let’s say you want to put two different ideas about a single subject in a single sentence, how would you go about doing that? Well, the simplest way is to use relative clauses. A clause in the context of grammar can be simplified as being ‘ideas’. In a sentence, there maybe a main clause and a dependent clause. A main clause is an idea that can stand on its own, a dependent clause is an idea that depends on the context given by the main clause to make sense. The main clause and the dependent clause is linked by a simple pronoun as a sort of ‘bridge’.
Let’s create a simple sentence as an example: David visited his father who lives in Sydney.
The main clause here is — David visited his father — we can understand this idea without the need for any other information.
The dependent clause in this sentence is — lives in Sydney — without the main clause, there is no way we can make sense of this idea because without the main clause, you would be asking the speaker «Who lives in Sydney?»
Therefore, as you can see — dependent clause needs the main clause in order to give it contextual information necessary to be understood. Relative clause is a type of dependent clause. Now have a look at the word ‘who’ - it is a pronoun. It’s used to link the two clauses together, creating a seamless transformation of a sentence from having one information to having two.
The choice of the pronouns depends on the subject:
For a person use — who
Eg. Mary is a cleaner who likes to sweep the floors for fun.
For a location use — where
Eg. I was in Hong Kong where the streets are extremely busy with people.
For a thing (non person) use — which
Eg. That plate of food was delicious which also arrived at my house on time.
For time use — when
Eg. You will arrive in Novosibirsk at 6am when the sun begins to rise.
Now you can create more varied sentences instead of using sentences with only one idea in them — use it!
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