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Sentence problems: Relative clauses

Examples (1–4) represent some common mistakes with relative clauses. Read more about the difference between restrictive and non-restrictive relative clauses here .

Use a comma with a non-restrictive relative clause

Incorrect:

(1a) City traffic means a great deal of accelerating which requires power to get the car moving quickly.

Correct:

(1b) City traffic means a great deal of accelerating, which requires power to get the car moving quickly.

Use two commas with a non-restrictive clause

If you use a non-restrictive clause to add information in the middle of a clause, remember to use two commas – one at the start of the relative clause, one at the end:

Incorrect:

(2a) The lecturer, who is very experienced explains everything clearly.

Correct:

(2b) The lecturer, who is very experienced, explains everything clearly.

Do not use a comma with a restrictive relative clause

Incorrect:

(3a) There are a number of programmes, that allow modelling of the data.

Correct:

(3b) There are a number of programmes that allow modelling of the data.

Do not separate the relative clause from its referent

A relative clause cannot be separated from the thing or person that it refers to. In (4a), the sentence means that the course, not the figure, illustrates the types.

Incorrect:

(4a) This figure is from a course in Materials Science which illustrates three different types of material structure within metals.

Correct:

(4b) This figure, which illustrates three different types of material structure within metals, is from a course in Materials Science.

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Innehållsansvarig:Susanna Zeitler Lyne
Tillhör: Institutionen för lärande
Senast ändrad: 2023-06-26