Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Omitting the Relative Pronoun Worksheet

[This work sheet was designed for students who are not yet confident enough to omit the relative pronoun in real time conversation, but need to understand the rules for a written test at the end of the term. The worksheet is my own, although, since it was difficult to think of 23 relative clause sentences off the top of my head, many of these sentences were borrowed from other books.
 On a sidenote: I've learned a lot of interesting things about grammar over the years teaching TESOL.  One of the things that fascinates me is that native speakers do all these calculations sub-consciously when they speak.]

Omitting the relative Pronoun: Yes or No.
It is often difficult for learners of English to know when they can omit the relative pronoun.  Especially when speaking, leaners may not have time to think through everything in real time.  At this level, don’t worry so much about omitting relative pronouns in speaking.  Just understand what the grammar rules are for the test and you’ll do fine.
If you think through everything carefully, it shouldn’t be a problem. 
In order to omit the relative pronoun, you need two things.
1) The relative clause must be defining.
2) The relative pronoun must be the object of the relative clause.
Both of these things should be easy if you think through them carefully.  The first step is to decide whether the relative clause is defining or non-defining.  This should be pretty easy if you use the commas to help you make decisions.

For the sentences below, decide whether they are defining or non-defining.

1. The man who I wanted to see was on holiday.   (defining / non-defining)

2. Tom’s father, who is 78, goes swimming  every day.  (defining / non-defining)

3. The house at the end of the street, which has been empty for two years, has just been sold.  (defining / non-defining)

4. I don’t like stories that have unhappy endings.   (defining / non-defining)

5. She told me her address, which I wrote down on a piece of paper.  (defining / non-defining)

6. Have you found the keys that you lost?  (defining / non-defining)

7. The man who lives next door is very friendly.  (defining / non-defining)

8. Martin, whose mother is Spanish, speaks both Spanish and English fluently.  (defining / non-defining)

9. We know a lot of people who live in London.  (defining / non-defining)

10. Where are the eggs that were in the fridge?  (defining / non-defining)

11. The strike at the car factory, which lasted ten days, is now over.  (defining / non-defining)

12. The bed that I slept in was too soft.  (defining / non-defining)

13. I didn’t get the job that I wanted.  (defining / non-defining)

14. A friend of mine, whose father is the manager of a company, helped me to get a job.  (defining / non-defining)

15. Everything that happened was my fault.  (defining / non-defining)

16. Yesterday I met John, who told me he was getting married.  (defining / non-defining)

17. My sister, who you met once, is visiting us next week.  (defining / non-defining)

18. This is the worst film that I’ve ever seen.  (defining / non-defining)

19. The waitress who served us was very impolite.  (defining / non-defining)

20. The museum that Tom recommended was shut when we got there.  (defining / non-defining)

21. Gerry works for a company that makes typewriters.  (defining / non-defining)

22. The man that I met has been married twice.  (defining / non-defining)

23. Last night went to Ann’s party, which we enjoyed very much.  (defining / non-defining)




Once you have decided that a relative clause is defining, then you can omit the pronoun if it is in the object position.  The sentences below are the defining relative clause sentences from the previous exercise.   Now go through and decide which ones have relative pronouns as objects, and which ones have relatives pronouns as subjects.  Remember you can omit relative pronouns used as objects, but not as subjects.

1. The man who I wanted to see was on holiday.
What is the relative clause? __________________________________________________
What is the relative pronoun? ____
What noun does the relative pronoun refer to? _______
Rewrite the relative clause using the noun: ______________________________________________
Is the relative pronoun the subject or the object of the clause? ________
Can you omit the relative pronoun in this sentence? ____

2. I don’t like stories that have unhappy endings
What is the relative clause? __________________________________________________
What is the relative pronoun? ____
What noun does the relative pronoun refer to? _______
Rewrite the relative clause using the noun: ______________________________________________
Is the relative pronoun the subject or the object of the clause? ________
Can you omit the relative pronoun in this sentence? ____

3. Have you found the keys that you lost?
What is the relative clause? __________________________________________________
What is the relative pronoun? ____
What noun does the relative pronoun refer to? _______
Rewrite the relative clause using the noun: ______________________________________________
Is the relative pronoun the subject or the object of the clause? ________
Can you omit the relative pronoun in this sentence? ____

4. The man who lives next door is very friendly.
What is the relative clause? __________________________________________________
What is the relative pronoun? ____
What noun does the relative pronoun refer to? _______
Rewrite the relative clause using the noun: ______________________________________________
Is the relative pronoun the subject or the object of the clause? ________
Can you omit the relative pronoun in this sentence? ____

5. We know a lot of people who live in London.
What is the relative clause? __________________________________________________
What is the relative pronoun? ____
What noun does the relative pronoun refer to? _______
Rewrite the relative clause using the noun: ______________________________________________
Is the relative pronoun the subject or the object of the clause? ________
Can you omit the relative pronoun in this sentence? ____

6. Where are the eggs that were in the fridge?
What is the relative clause? __________________________________________________
What is the relative pronoun? ____
What noun does the relative pronoun refer to? _______
Rewrite the relative clause using the noun: ______________________________________________
Is the relative pronoun the subject or the object of the clause? ________
Can you omit the relative pronoun in this sentence? ____

7. The bed that I slept in was too soft.
What is the relative clause? __________________________________________________
What is the relative pronoun? ____
What noun does the relative pronoun refer to? _______
Rewrite the relative clause using the noun: ______________________________________________
Is the relative pronoun the subject or the object of the clause? ________
Can you omit the relative pronoun in this sentence? ____

8. I didn’t get the job that I wanted.
What is the relative clause? __________________________________________________
What is the relative pronoun? ____
What noun does the relative pronoun refer to? _______
Rewrite the relative clause using the noun: ______________________________________________
Is the relative pronoun the subject or the object of the clause? ________
Can you omit the relative pronoun in this sentence? ____

9. Everything that happened was my fault.
What is the relative clause? __________________________________________________
What is the relative pronoun? ____
What noun does the relative pronoun refer to? _______
Rewrite the relative clause using the noun: ______________________________________________
Is the relative pronoun the subject or the object of the clause? ________
Can you omit the relative pronoun in this sentence? ____

10 This is the worst film that I’ve ever seen.
What is the relative clause? __________________________________________________
What is the relative pronoun? ____
What noun does the relative pronoun refer to? _______
Rewrite the relative clause using the noun: ______________________________________________
Is the relative pronoun the subject or the object of the clause? ________
Can you omit the relative pronoun in this sentence? ____

11. The waitress who served us was very impolite.
What is the relative clause? __________________________________________________
What is the relative pronoun? ____
What noun does the relative pronoun refer to? _______
Rewrite the relative clause using the noun: ______________________________________________
Is the relative pronoun the subject or the object of the clause? ________
Can you omit the relative pronoun in this sentence? ____

12. The museum that Tom recommended was shut when we got there.
What is the relative clause? __________________________________________________
What is the relative pronoun? ____
What noun does the relative pronoun refer to? _______
Rewrite the relative clause using the noun: ______________________________________________
Is the relative pronoun the subject or the object of the clause? ________
Can you omit the relative pronoun in this sentence? ____

13. The man that I met has been married twice.
What is the relative clause? __________________________________________________
What is the relative pronoun? ____
What noun does the relative pronoun refer to? _______
Rewrite the relative clause using the noun: ______________________________________________
Is the relative pronoun the subject or the object of the clause? ________
Can you omit the relative pronoun in this sentence? ____

14.  Gerry works for a company that makes typewriters.
What is the relative clause? __________________________________________________
What is the relative pronoun? ____
What noun does the relative pronoun refer to? _______
Rewrite the relative clause using the noun: ______________________________________________
Is the relative pronoun the subject or the object of the clause? ________
Can you omit the relative pronoun in this sentence? ____



Answers

1. The man who I wanted to see was on holiday.
What is the relative clause? who I wanted to see
What is the relative pronoun? who
What noun does the relative pronoun refer to? the man
Rewrite the relative clause using the noun: I wanted to see the man
Is the relative pronoun the subject or the object of the clause? object
Can you omit the relative pronoun in this sentence? yes

2. I don’t like stories that have unhappy endings
What is the relative clause? that have happy endings
What is the relative pronoun? that
What noun does the relative pronoun refer to? stories
Rewrite the relative clause using the noun: stories have happy endings
Is the relative pronoun the subject or the object of the clause? subject
Can you omit the relative pronoun in this sentence? no

3. Have you found the keys that you lost?
What is the relative clause? that you lost
What is the relative pronoun? that
What noun does the relative pronoun refer to? the keys
Rewrite the relative clause using the noun: you lost the keys
Is the relative pronoun the subject or the object of the clause? object
Can you omit the relative pronoun in this sentence? no

4. The man who lives next door is very friendly.
What is the relative clause? who lives next door
What is the relative pronoun? who
What noun does the relative pronoun refer to? the man
Rewrite the relative clause using the noun: the man lives next door
Is the relative pronoun the subject or the object of the clause? subject
Can you omit the relative pronoun in this sentence? no

5. We know a lot of people who live in London.
What is the relative clause? who live in London
What is the relative pronoun? who
What noun does the relative pronoun refer to? people
Rewrite the relative clause using the noun:  people live in London
Is the relative pronoun the subject or the object of the clause? subject
Can you omit the relative pronoun in this sentence? no

6. Where are the eggs that were in the fridge?
What is the relative clause? that were in the fridge
What is the relative pronoun? that
What noun does the relative pronoun refer to? the eggs
Rewrite the relative clause using the noun: the eggs were in the fridge
Is the relative pronoun the subject or the object of the clause? subject
Can you omit the relative pronoun in this sentence? no

7. The bed that I slept in was too soft.
What is the relative clause? that I slept in
What is the relative pronoun? that
What noun does the relative pronoun refer to? the bed
Rewrite the relative clause using the noun: I slept in the bed
Is the relative pronoun the subject or the object of the clause? object
Can you omit the relative pronoun in this sentence? yes




8. I didn’t get the job that I wanted.
What is the relative clause? that I wanted
What is the relative pronoun? that
What noun does the relative pronoun refer to? the job
Rewrite the relative clause using the noun: I wanted the job
Is the relative pronoun the subject or the object of the clause? object
Can you omit the relative pronoun in this sentence? yes

9. Everything that happened was my fault.
What is the relative clause? that happened
What is the relative pronoun? that
What noun does the relative pronoun refer to? everything
Rewrite the relative clause using the noun: everything happened
Is the relative pronoun the subject or the object of the clause? subject
Can you omit the relative pronoun in this sentence? no

10 This is the worst film that I’ve ever seen.
What is the relative clause? that I've ever seen
What is the relative pronoun? that
What noun does the relative pronoun refer to? the (worst) film
Rewrite the relative clause using the noun: I've seen the film
Is the relative pronoun the subject or the object of the clause? object
Can you omit the relative pronoun in this sentence? yes

11. The waitress who served us was very impolite.
What is the relative clause? who served us
What is the relative pronoun? who
What noun does the relative pronoun refer to? the waitress
Rewrite the relative clause using the noun: the waitress served us
Is the relative pronoun the subject or the object of the clause? subject
Can you omit the relative pronoun in this sentence? no

12. The museum that Tom recommended was shut when we got there.
What is the relative clause? that Tom recommended
What is the relative pronoun? that
What noun does the relative pronoun refer to? the museum
Rewrite the relative clause using the noun:  Tom recommended the museum
Is the relative pronoun the subject or the object of the clause? object
Can you omit the relative pronoun in this sentence? yes

13. The man that I met has been married twice.
What is the relative clause? that I met
What is the relative pronoun? that
What noun does the relative pronoun refer to? the man
Rewrite the relative clause using the noun: I met the man
Is the relative pronoun the subject or the object of the clause? object
Can you omit the relative pronoun in this sentence? yes

14.  Gerry works for a company that makes typewriters.
What is the relative clause? that makes typewriters
What is the relative pronoun? that
What noun does the relative pronoun refer to? a company
Rewrite the relative clause using the noun: a company makes typewriters
Is the relative pronoun the subject or the object of the clause? subject
Can you omit the relative pronoun in this sentence? no


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