Adjective Clause: Definition & Examples

An error occurred trying to load this video.

Try refreshing the page, or contact customer support.

Coming up next: Formal Writing: Definition, Rules & Examples

You're on a roll. Keep up the good work!

Take Quiz Watch Next Lesson
Your next lesson will play in 10 seconds
  • 0:00 Definition Of an…
  • 0:40 Relative Pronouns
  • 1:05 Exceptions To The Rule
  • 1:45 How Adjective Clauses Function
  • 2:30 Adjective Clauses In…
  • 3:13 Lesson Summary
Save Save Save

Want to watch this again later?

Log in or sign up to add this lesson to a Custom Course.

Log in or Sign up

Speed Speed

Recommended Lessons and Courses for You

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Debbie Notari
An adjective clause is a group of words with a subject and verb that modifies a noun in a sentence. In this lesson, we will learn how adjective clauses work.

Definition of an Adjective Clause

In order to understand an adjective clause, let's define the two words individually. An adjective is a word that describes or modifies a noun. A clause is a group of words that has both a subject and a verb. If the clause expresses a complete thought, then it is a complete sentence. If it doesn't, it is what we call a dependent clause, as it depends on the main clause of the sentence to form a complete thought. An adjective clause, then, is a group of words that has both a subject and a verb that modifies a noun in a sentence. Adjective clauses are dependent clauses.

Relative Pronouns

Adjective clauses begin with the 'signal words' or 'relative pronouns'. Here is a list of the most-used relative pronouns:

  • which
  • who
  • whoever
  • whomever
  • that
  • whose

It is important to recognize relative pronouns because they signal the beginning of adjective clauses in sentences. They also act as the actual subjects and sometimes the objects in the adjective clauses.

Exceptions to the Rule

When we see a relative pronoun in a sentence, we know that this is most likely the beginning of an adjective clause. Keep in mind that as with other grammar rules in the English language, there are often exceptions. Here is an example:

Who is the author of the book?

The word 'who' is the subject of this sentence; it does not signal the beginning of an adjective clause.

However, the word 'who' does signal the beginning of an adjective clause in the following sentence:

Mrs. Jones, who faints easily, saw the wild mouse and screamed.

The clause 'who faints easily' is an adjective clause that modifies the proper noun 'Mrs. Jones.'

How Adjective Clauses Function

Now that we have that cleared up, let's move on to see some examples of how adjective clauses work in sentences. See if you can identify the adjective clauses in the following three sentences:

1. Pamela is the girl who won the surfing contest.
2. The black car that ran the red light got in an accident.
3. People are sometimes superstitious about black cats which are common symbols of Halloween.

Now, see how you did! Here are the correct answers:

To unlock this lesson you must be a Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use

Become a member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about
Try it risk-free for 30 days

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 200 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it risk-free for 30 days!
Create an account