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Advanced Composition 

Using Adjective Clauses
April 27, 2000

Adjective clauses are used in two ways: as necessary or unnecessary clauses. Knowing the difference can help you punctuate correctly and avoid confusion. They, as are all adjective forms, good ways to increase detail in your writing.

Necessary Adjective Clauses
These clauses must be included to make sentence clear.

All students who do not study will fail the examination. (In this case, only the students who do not study will fail, not all students.)

The washrooms that are on the second floor are for men only. (without the clause, we wouldn't know where the washrooms are)

Unnecessary Adjective Clauses
If the clause is unnecessary, it has commas around or before it.

    My son, who is very tall, came into the living room.
    I think he will be as tall as his grandfather, who was over six feet tall.

Note: An adjective clause is necessary if there is not enough information about the noun. Sometimes, if we already know the noun we must call extra information unnecessary. Brad, who is our English teacher, is explaining adjective clauses.


Every family has an eldest person. Who is that person in your family? Describe this person using both necessary and unnecessary adjective clauses at least twice. Write a short paragraph.

Please also visit your Advanced Composition Class Page where you can access current and past lessons.

More Lessons (index of past lesson worksheets)