When Can You Reduce an Adjective Clause?

Sometimes you can drop the relative pronoun

For example:

The house that we bought is in Fremont.

OR

The house we bought is in Fremont.

Sometimes you can’t.

For example:

The Ings are the people who sold me the house.

NOT

*The Ings are the people sold me the house.

What’s the Difference?

When you make an adjective clause, you are embedding (or burying) on sentence inside another:

The house that we bought is in Fremont.

Main sentence = The house is in Fremont.

Embedded sentence = We bought the house.

The Ings are the people who sold us the house.

Main sentence = The Ings are the people.

Embedded sentence = The people sold us the house.

You can leave out the relative pronoun if

it stands for the OBJECT of the embedded sentence:

Main sentence = The house is in Fremont.

Embedded sentence = We bought the house.

The house that we bought is in Fremont:

“That” stands for the house. The house is the object of the embedded sentence.

You can’t leave out the relative pronoun if

it stands for the SUBJECT of the embedded sentence:

For example:

The Ings are the people who sold me the house.

Main sentence: The Ings are the people.

Embedded sentence: The people sold me the house.

The Ings are the people who sold me the house:

“Who” stands for people. “People is the subject of the embedded sentence.

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