The Uses of Grammar

By Judith Rodby; W. Ross Winterowd | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 12
Adjectivals: Clauses

CHAPTER PREVIEW
Looking back, you remember that clauses can fill noun positions in sentences and that clauses, like sentences, have either TN or MOD. Thus, in
Dick knew that Jane had played hooky.

the clause that Jane had played hooky is the object of the verb knew.

Clauses can also modify nominals—hence, adjective clauses.
Naughty children must be punished.
Children who are naughty must be punished.
This chapter will explain adjective clauses and the word classes that relate these clauses to the nominals that they modify:
Definite relative pronouns
The dog that howled all night is Spot.
Definite relative adjectives
Jane met the neighbor whose cat terrified Spot.
Definite relative adverbs
Dick remembers the time when Jane swallowed the goldfish.

DEFINITE RELATIVE PRONOUNS, ADJECTIVES, AND ADVERBS

Definite Relative Pronouns

In noun clauses, the pronouns that link the clause to a nominal are indefinite relatives; they do not gain their meaning (their semantic content) from other words in the sentence.

In adjective clauses, the pronouns that link the clause to a nominal are definite relatives, gaining their semantic content from other words to which they relate. They have antecedents, in other words. In the noun clause who ate the last M&M, the relative pronoun who has no definite reference:

Father knew who ate the last M&M.

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