ESL Adjective Clauses: Activities & Games

Instructor: Matthew Hamel

Matt has degrees in Journalism and Business and has taught a variety of courses at high schools and universities around the world.

Sometimes ESL (English as a Second Language) students find the ins and outs of English grammar confusing. This lesson will alleviate some of those feelings by providing teachers with classroom activities designed to teach adjective clauses.

Explaining the Adjective Clause

Before using the activities in this lesson, give your students a quick and simple review of both adjectives and clauses.

Adjective: a word that describes a noun, such as the friendly dog or the tall fence.

Clause: two or more words.

Basically, an adjective clause gives a description of a noun and often begins with a pronoun or an adverb.


  • Who (My sister, who is older than me, is a great athlete.)
  • Whom / Whose (I know someone whose cousin is famous.)
  • That (The TV that is in the living room is broken.)
  • Which (Valencia, which is a type of orange, is great for making juice.)


  • When (Last Saturday, when it was raining, I fell off my bike.)
  • Where (The gym, where I go twice a week, will shut down soon.)
  • Why (Fear of heights is the main reason why my mother doesn't like tall buildings.)

Remind your students that because an adjective clause does not express a complete thought, it is not a sentence. An adjective clause has to be connected to a main clause to form a complete sentence, as shown in this example: When I finish my homework, I often eat pizza.

  • Adjective clause: when I finish my homework
  • Simple sentence / main clause: I often eat pizza

Insert the Clause

In this activity, students will insert a missing clause into a sentence. First, write the following sentences on the blackboard. Sample answers are in parenthesis. If needed, simplify the language to meet student needs.

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