Grammar Guide: Adjective Clauses

Mother's Day is always the second Sunday in the month of May in the United States. Mother's Day is unique because it doesn't celebrate a particular event in history or one person like other holidays do; it celebrates mothers from all different backgrounds. Popular traditions include ways to show Mom that you love her: flowers or gifts, breakfast in bed, cards, and nice restaurant dinners. Many people in the United States consider Mother's Day one of the biggest holidays after Christmas, Thanksgiving, and Valentine's Day.

Adjective Clauses
Similar to how adverb clauses function as adverbs, adjective clauses function as adjectives. An adjective modifies, or describes, a noun or pronoun. Adjectives answer the questions which one, what kind, and how many. These clauses do not begin with subordinating conjunctions as adverb clauses do, but they begin with relative pronouns. Relative pronouns are who, whom, whose, that, which, what, when, where, and why.

  • My mother, who lives in Texas, is a caring and kind woman.
  • My father, whom my mother loves, is buying her a new car for Mother's Day.
  • My mother has wanted a new car that has automatic transmission for many years.
  • I remember the time when she gave up a new car so that we could go on vacation together.
  • Our family went to a place where we could swim and play together.
  • My mother, whose food is always delicious, made us wonderful lunches and dinners that weekend.
Notice that in these examples, sometimes commas are present. We use commas with adjective clauses if the information is not necessary. Since I have only one mother, I do not need extra information to identify her. The car that she wants, however, needs the extra information to distinguish it from other cars. In these cases, do not use commas.

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