Defining and Non-defining Relative Clauses Quiz

Level: Intermediate / Upper-intermediate 

In this defining and non-defining relative clauses quiz you have to decide which type of clause you are looking at.

Before starting the quiz review the key differences between defining and non-defining relative clauses.

This is the main difference:

  • Defining: These give essential information, which cannot be left out of the sentence.
  • Non-defining: These give extra information, and could be left out of the sentence without changing the main message.

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Defining and Non-defining Relative Clauses Quiz

Choose whether the sentence includes a defining or non-defining relative clause.

1. She is the one who kindly helped me with my shopping.

This is essential information. Without the relative clause, we would not know what the person did.

2. My brother, who lives in Boston, is an accountant.

The main point is about her brother being an accountant. Where he lives is extra information, and so it is placed in commas.

3. The house he bought, which is in central London, is really beautiful.

The location of the house is just extra information.

4. Can I buy the dress that's displayed in the window?

The relative clause is identifying/defining which dress (the one in the window, not one elsewhere in the shop). Without this we do not know which dress is being referred to. So it's essential. 'That' also tells you it's a defining relative clause.

5. Anne, whose sister is also a friend of mine, is going to join us for dinner.

The main part is 'Anne is going to join us for dinner.' The relative clause is just some extra information. It's not defining a noun.

6. Paris is the city where I grew up.

The clause is essential as it is needed to explain what happened in Paris i.e. the person grew up there. 'Paris is the city' does not make sense on it's own.

7. The play that my friend was in was a bit boring.

'that my friend was in' is identifying which play the speaker is referring to, so it's essential. The use of 'that' and the lack of a comma also tells you it's a defining relative clause.

8. My employers haven't given me my holiday pay yet, which really isn't fair.

'My employers haven't given me my holiday pay yet' makes sense on its own. The speaker is just giving extra information to say that s/he thinks it's unfair. It is also separated off with a comma.

9. They are the children whose father was arrested yesterday.

'They are the children' does not mean anything on it's own. The relative clause is needed to identify what is relevant about those particular children.

10. President Kennedy, whom I really admire, was assassinated in 1963.

The admiration for Kennedy is just extra information. The main message is explaining when he was assassinated. This can stand as a statement without having 'whom I really admire'.

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