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ESL forum > Grammar and Linguistics > Relative clauses, omitting pronouns, identifying subject and object....    

Relative clauses, omitting pronouns, identifying subject and object....


Relative clauses, omitting pronouns, identifying subject and object....
Hi Everyone,
My head is spinning! I am in the process of trying to teach relative clauses and we are moving on to omitting the pronoun. Our textbook doesn´t define when we can omit the pronoun very well - or at least, not with much detail - my students are confused with identifying the subject and the object (as we know that we can drop the pronoun if it replaces the object) and are asking about specific definitions regarding defining subject, indirect subject, object and indirect object.... I explain but for some students I am succeeding in only making them more confused...
So... does anyone have any bright ideas regarding explaining what is the subject etc? I dont mind if it is i the format of a worksheet or any little trick you use to explain verbally) I know that learning English is a little like a maths course in that there are formulas for many sentence structures - I just cant seem to find it for this and have limited resources.
I really hope someone can help me out:)

15 Jun 2009      


Hi there,
What I usually tell my students that they can omit the pronoun only if it is NOT followed by a verb.
... who showed me the pictures...  --> the pronoun is followed by a verb so you cannot omit it
... which I showed him ... --> the pronoun is NOT followed by a verb so you can omit it
But this explanation only applies for "who", "which", and "that".
Hope this might help :)

15 Jun 2009     


Hi, a fairly good trick is to tell them that they can omit the relative pronoun when the clause contains a distinct "subject" of it´s own. (It works about 95% of the time).

The man, who visited Niagara Falls, is my brother. - here who is the "subject" of the relative so you cannot remove it.

The man, (who) I met at Niagara Falls, knows my brother. - "who" is not the subject, "I" is the subject therefore it can be removed.

More examples:

Niagara Falls is the place that has famous waterfalls. - cannot omit - no separate "subject"

Niagara Falls is the place (that/where) we go each summer.   - can omit, separate subject.

Niagara falls is the place (where/that) I saw Jerry. - can omit...


15 Jun 2009     


Thanks so much for you help, hopefully I will be able to help them out next lessonSmile

16 Jun 2009     


Hi Kelsa,


1. The man who robbed you has been arrested.

2. The girls who serve in the shop are the owner’s daughters.

3. The stairs which lead to the cellar are rather slippery.

The pronoun ´who ´ / ´which ´ cannot be omitted because it is subject. (The pronoun replaces a subject)


1. The man (whom)(who)(that) I saw told me to come back today.

2. The girls (whom)(that) he employs are always complaining about their work.

3. The car (which)(that) I hired broke down after five kilometers.

The pronoun ´who ´ or ´whom ´ or ´that ´ or ´which ´ can be omitted because it is object. (The pronoun replaces an object)

Notice that all the clauses above are DEFINING RELATIVE clauses.
When the Relatives are NON-DEFINING the pronouns cannot be omitted whether they are subjects or objects.

16 Jun 2009     


I just uploaded a worksheet with some exercises (that) you might find useful. Smile

16 Jun 2009