IELTS Grammar: Usage of Adjective Clause (AC)

Over the past several months I’ve seen numerous students getting confused about usage of adjective clauses. Let me explain their usage in greater detail today.

Now, I want to make this article useful to laymen (and women). So, I’m throwing out all that useless grammar jargon. Let us keep it PLAIN and SIMPLE.

What is an adjective? Its a word that adds value (let’s not use the word MODIFY) to a noun. And what’s a clause? Don’t worry about it. You don’t need to know.

Ok. Simple. AC refers to words “such as when, where, who, whose, whom, that, which” and it is used to add value to a noun (just like adjective).


The project that I’m working on involves working for 16 hours a day.

Mr. Aman is the teacher who helped me solve the mathematics problems.

See, its easy. You have a portion of the sentence that requires some explanation (that is, add some value), you use AC.

The crucial question pertains to usage of ‘which’ and ‘that’. What is the difference between the two?

Without entering into grammar jargon, the difference is that ‘that’ is used to add value to the sentence without which sentence would be incomplete. ‘Which’ is used to add value without which sentence would still be complete. That is, ‘which’ is used to add extra information.

We listened to the minister’s speech, which was on threat of global terrorism, very attentively.

Okay. If I delete “which was …… terrorism”, the sentence is still complete. However, this was used to add value about speech.

Read the following sentences on usage of that/which.

Chairs that don’t have cushions are uncomfortable to sit on.

These chairs, which I purchased from your shop, are of poor quality.

You should not play card games that involve betting money.

Understand the difference: 

1. The cake that I purchased yesterday was made of chocolate.

2. The cake which I purchased yesterday was made of chocolate.

First sentence is correct because I’m talking about a particular cake that was purchased yesterday. Not today or any other day.

Here’s another example:

That cake which is made of chocolate looks tasty. What do you think?

This sentence means that there are many cakes among which there’s one cake that is made of chocolate.

Here is a link to an excellent artice on AC. Please visit it to enhance your writing/ grammar skills.

Happy learning English!

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Categories: Grammar

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