In this article, we will talk about restrictive and non-restrictive clause; also known as defining and non-defining clause. What exactly are they?
They are types of relative clause which define a noun. They usually contain relative pronouns such as who, which, that, where, and when. For examples:
- “The cake which I bought from Breadtalk was delicious.”
- “This is the dress which I wore last week.”
- “I will go to the beach with Rina, who was my school mate, this weekend.”
From the examples, I would say sentences number 1 and 2 contain restrictive clauses while sentence number 3 contains a non-restrictive clause . Why?
Let’s start from number 1. What if ‘which I bought from Breadtalk’ is removed from the sentence? It will be ‘The cake was delicious.’ Then try to remove ‘which I wore last week,’ the sentence will turn to ‘This is the dress.’ The meaning of the sentence changed, didn’t it?
‘which I bought from Breadtalk’ and ‘which I wore last week’ are restrictive clauses because they add an important information. They explain and define the cake and the clothes we talk about. That is why it is also called defining clause.
How about sentence number 3? Read the sentence and avoid ‘who was my school mate.’ It will be ‘I will go to the beach with Rina this weekend.’
The sentence still have the same meaning because the clause we removed is just an additional explanation of the object, Rina. And that is why ‘who was my school mate’ is called non-restrictive clause.
Now I will give you some samples and you should determine it whether the sentences below contain restrictive or non-restrictive clause.
- My eldest son, who is 27, is studying in Australia.
- Her aunt who lives in Sulawesi visited her last week.
- I found your book on the bench which is in the park you visited yesterday.
- He wrote the review of Up, the movie which I have just watched, and posted it in his blog.
- It contains non-restrictive clause: who is 27
- It contains restrictive clause: who lives in Sulawesi
- It contains restrictive clause: where in the park you visited yesterday
- It contains non-restrictive clause: the movie which I have just watched
In a simpler way, non-restrictive clauses are always separated by commas while restrictive clauses are not.
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