Monday, December 16, 2013

Grammar Lesson - Relative Clauses: which, who, whose, and that

Today I have a bit of a different type of post for you. Chryse Wymer is here to talk about the mechanics of writing and editing. Chryse is also offering a chance to win one of three Amazon gift cards so be sure to keep reading.


Thank you so much to Angela Donner for allowing me to guest post. I’m a weirdo (as usual) to most book-reviewing bloggers because I’m not interested in promoting a book. Instead, I’m promoting good grammar and usage . . . as well as my editing business, of course.

This month, I’ll be hopping along from blog to blog to share my knowledge on the nuts and bolts of great writing. I am a copy editor, proofreader, and author—published both traditionally and independently. I’m also raffling off Amazon gift cards to get you started on your editing bookshelves. You can contact me at, or, for more information, visit: At the previous site, I’ll also be keeping a list of the blogs I’ve visited and the subject matter I’ve shared.

I’ll warn non-word nerds that the language here is rather . . . technical. Just stick with me. You’ll get it. This is very important information to know so that you understand when to use which with a comma, that without a comma, who or whose with a comma, who or whose without a comma. If you don’t know the previous, your writing can potentially become muddy.

Let’s get down to business.


If this information is a bit confusing or overwhelming, go through it slowly and understand the definition first, and then go back and understand what it’s defining.

Nonrestrictive relative clause: A clause beginning with which, who, or whose and adding nonessential information about the noun it describes or changes; a relative clause that narrows and identifies the head phrase. -The clause is always set off by commas . A nonrestrictive relative clause could be omitted without affecting the sentence's meaning (in the preceding example, My aunt is the subject of the complete sentence and the who-clause adds nonessential information). Also called nondefining relative clause; appositive relative clause.

Restrictive relative clause: A clause beginning with that, who, or whose that contains essential information about the noun or noun phrase it modifies. -It is never set off with commas. If the clause was deleted, the meaning of the sentence would be affected. Compare The snow that I walked in felt crunchy with The snow felt crunchy. The restrictive clause that I walked in identifies a particular thing (snow). A restrictive clause never begins with which. -Also termed defining relative clause.

That’s it. You made it through :-)

Thank you for reading. Join me tomorrow on, where I will begin the first in my series on hyphens, em dashes, and en dashes.


Chryse Wymer is a freelance copy editor and proofreader whose main focus is on indie writers. Her clients have been well reviewed, and one was recently chosen as a top-five finalist in The Kindle Book Review's 2013 Best Indie Book Awards in his category: mystery/thriller. For some years, she has been particularly obsessed with William S. Burroughs’s writing, who happened to coin the term heavy metal ... her favorite music. You can contact her at, follow her on twitter: @ChryseWymer, or like her on Facebook:

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