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Reduced relative clauses - lesson and exercises

Reduced relative clauses are participle clauses which follow a noun. They are like relative clauses, but with the
relative pronoun and auxiliary verb (if there is one) left out.
Because they modify nouns, (reduced) relative clauses are occasionally referred to as adjective clauses.
Reduced relative clauses are used most often instead of defining relative clauses, which are what we'll be mainly
looking at.
This post is an expanded version of part of a longer post on participles and participle clauses.

Look at these reduced relative clauses using participles

1. Who is that man waving at us?

2. Most of those trying to get tickets were unsuccessful.

3. All the workers made redundant last month have now been found new jobs.

4. The money being collected will go to help a new orphanage

Preliminary exercise Now make full relative clauses using who or which and the verb be

1. Who is that man waving at us?

2. Most of those trying to get tickets were unsuccessful.

2. All the workers made redundant last month have now been found new jobs.

4. The money being collected will go to help a new orphanage.

Basic principles for making reduced relative clauses


1. We can only make reduced relative clauses when the relative pronoun is the subject of
the relative clause.
Active
That woman who is talking to my wife is our local Member of Parliament.
That woman talking to my wife is ...
That woman who my wife is talking to is our local Member of Parliament.
NOT That woman my wife talking to is ...
Passive
The man who is being taken away by the police is our neighbour.
The man being taken away by the police...

2. Active tenses are replaced with a present participle (-ing form). Note that the present
participle can replace various active tenses, not only present continuous
Anyone wanting a ticket for the Final see me.
(who wants - present simple)
The train now arriving at Platform 3 is the 4.20 to Paddington
(which is now arriving - present continuous)
Teams completing the first round go into the quarter-finals.
(which have completed - present perfect)
People arriving late were not allowed in until the interval.
(who arrived - past simple)

3. Passive tenses are replaced by the past participle (-ed forms) and being + past participle.
When I say -ed forms, I'm including irregular form such as seen, broken etc.
The past participle replaces passive simple forms while the being form replaces passive continuous forms
The student chosen as winner will get a prize.
(that is chosen - present simple)
The progress made yesterday will give us a head start.
(which was made - past simple)
None of the models inspected so far have passed the test.
(that have been inspected) - present perfect
The saplings being planted today will one day grow into huge trees.
(which are being planted - present continuous)

Practice 1
Note - changing 'a, an' to 'the'
In these two exercises all the reduced relative clauses are defining ones, so any indefinite articles (a, an) inside the
relative clause would usually change to definite ones (the). But this doesn't affect indefinite articles outside the relative
clause. For example:
A car was being driven by a young man - the car crashed into a tree.
The car which was being driven by the young man crashed into a tree.
The car being driven by the young man crashed into a tree.
There is one question in each of Ex 1a and Ex 1b where, for the sake of the exercise, you should change 'a' to 'the',
although technically 'a' might also be possible.

Exercise 1a - match the sentence halves and complete the sentences below using a present
(-ing) participle. Don't add any punctuation.

1. Some employees have to work late a She moved to Australia

2. A doctor lived in this house before us b She caught a shoplifter

3. Some doctors attended a conference on malaria c They will be provided with taxis

4. A blonde woman is wearing a dark suit d They urged governments to act

5. Several roads lead to the city centre e They were all closed for the parade

6. A woman runs the local shop f She is the new boss

1. Employees .
2. The doctor .

3. Doctors .

4. The blonde woman .

5. All roads .

6. The woman .

Exercise 1b - match the sentence halves and complete the sentences below using a
present (-ing) or past (-ed etc) participle. Don't add any punctuation.

1. A driver has been stopped by the police a He is going out with my sister

2. A dog was hit by our neighbour's car b It is not seriously hurt

3. A young man is playing the guitar c He was three times over the legal limit

4. A lorry overturned on the motorway d He was nearly knocked down by a bus

5. A horse is being ridden by a jockey in blue e It caused two lanes to be closed

6. An elderly man was crossing the street f It is the odds-on favourite to win

1. The driver .

2. The dog .

3. The young man .

4. A lorry .
5. The horse .

6. An elderly man .

We can't use a reduced relative clause:


1. when the event or action in the defining relative clause comes before the event or action
in the main clause.
Trees which fell in the storm have been removed.
Trees falling in the storm have been removed.
unless it is the cause of the event or action in the main clause:

Trees which fell in the storm have resulted in several accidents.


Trees falling in the storm have resulted in several accidents.

2. with active single completed actions


The boy who fell off his bicycle broke his leg.
The boy falling off his bicycle broke his leg.
But we can use a reduced relative clause with passive single completed actions

The boy who was knocked off his bicycle broke his leg.
The boy knocked off his bicycle broke his leg.

3. In passive sentences when:


a. there is a noun (or as here, a pronoun) between the relative pronoun and the verb:

It was the way in which he was sacked that particularly shocked me.
NOT the way in which he sacked ...
b. when there is a modal other than will in the defining relative clause
The students who will be selected tomorrow will be offered a scholarship
The students selected tomorrow will be ...

The students who should be selected are those that have worked the hardest.
NOT The students selected tomorrow are those ...

Practice 2
Exercise 2 - Complete the sentences with a verb from the first box in participle form
together with an expression from the second.
find chat stand pile out wag be involved play be most interested
in the robbery with the yoyo on the phone of the cinema on the street
its tail at the bus stop in buying

1. The woman was in a hurry so she hailed a taxi.

2. I think the dog is a Jack Russel.


3. The crowds looked very happy.

4. The people our house were the Joneses.

5. The men have all been arrested.

6. The wallet was handed in to the police.

7. The girl over there is the new secretary.

8. The young boy is my brother.

Note - we also seem to be able to reduce relative clauses which include adjectives formed from past participles,
like involved and interested when they follow the verb to be.

Other ways of shortening relative clauses


1. Omitting the -ing form when it is followed by a prepositional phrase
We can omit the present participle when it is followed by a prepositional phrase:
The people who were sitting at the back couldn't hear.
The people sitting at the back couldn't hear.
The people at the back couldn't hear.
We can also do this when the verb in the relative clause is be and no participle is involved:
The man who is in that big black car is the President of Erewhon.
The man in that big black car is the President of Erewhon.

2. Remember that when the relative pronoun is the object of a defining relative clause, we
can omit (leave out) who, which or that.
The children (who) I taught all became geniuses. - direct object
This is the hotel (which) I was telling you about. - object of the preposition about
They're going to have to sell the house (that) they bought only a year ago. - direct object
A bit of grammar jargon - These structures are sometimes known as having a zero relative pronoun, and the
resulting clause is occasionally called a contact clause
Although these are certainly relative clauses which have been reduced (shorthened), they are not what we normally
refer to in EFL as reduced relative clauses, which involve one very basic principle:
As well as the relative pronoun being left out, the verb of the relative clause, including any auxiliary, is
replaced by an -ing or -ed (etc) participle.

Practice 3
Exercise 3 - Rewrite the sentences, where possible replacing the underlined relative
clauses with their shortest possible forms. Enter them into the boxes, as in the example.
Use a reduced relative clause where possible
If you can omit the participle altogether, do so. (1 question)
If you can't use a reduced relative clause but can omit the relative pronoun, do so.
If you can do none of these, enter the original clause (1 question).

0. The people who are crossing the street are trying to get a better view.

The people crossing the street are trying to get a better view.

1. The woman who is talking to your mother is my aunt.

2. The man who is standing by the window is my uncle.

3. All those who do not need to buy tickets please go straight in.

4. The first vineyard which I ever saw was in Germany.

5. Wikipedia, which was launched in 2001, is one of the great internet successes.

6. Animals which share the savannah include wildebeest and gazelles.

7. All the candidates who were selected were given a second interview.

8. All those who passed the test were given a second interview.

9. LOL, which stands for Laughing Out Loud, is now in the OED.

10. The bouquet was made from flowers which were grown locally.
11. This the man who I was talking to you about.

12. The man who won yesterday's lottery lives next door.

And what about non-defining relative clauses?


We sometimes also use reduced non-defining relative clauses. In fact there were two in that last exercise, Questions 5
and 9.
Peter, (who was) concentrating on his work, didn't hear the doorbell.
The young woman, (who was) living abroad at that time, didn't see her family very often.
The book, (which was) first published in 1970, has sold over a million copies.
Martha, (who was) brought up in the inner city, had never seen a cow before.
But very often we use an adverbial participle clause instead.
Concentrating on his work, Peter didn't hear the doorbell.
Living abroad at that time, the young woman didn't see her family very often.
First published in 1970, the book has sold over a million copies.
Brought up in the inner city, Martha had never seen a cow before.
We can omit the relative pronoun and the verb be when they are followed by descriptive noun phrases. These can
include adverbial expressions like now, then, already etc.
Peter Donaldson, (who is) our manager, graduated in chemical engineering.
Last year's prize was won by Jenny MacDonald, (who was) at that time still a student.
Glasgow, (which is) the largest city in Scotland, lies on the River Clyde.
One of Glasgow's jewels is the Merchant City, (which is) now a thriving cultural district.
For more information and practice on adverbial participle clauses sees my post here.

Reduced Relative clauses and the Internet


I've found several problems with the way Reduced Relative clauses are treated on the Internet.
1. Only continuous active tenses? - Several websites suggest that we can only reduce relative clauses if they are in
the continuous active, or in the passive. But as we have seen, we can also make reduced relative clauses from simple
tenses and sometimes even from perfect tenses.
The athlete who has won the most races is chosen as the Victor Ludorum.
The athlete winning the most races is chosen as the Victor Ludorum.
2. There is/are ? - One video on YouTube suggests that the following constructions are reduced relative clauses:
Are there dogs walking around outside
Is there a car parked next to mine
Because we might (according to the teacher) say:
Are there dogs which are walking around outside?
Is there a car which is parked next to mine?
But the problem is that we simply wouldn't. These are not natural sentences, and it is highly unlikely that a native
speaker would ever utter them.
The there is/are construction is often followed by a participle clause, as are verbs of perception, like see and hear, but
this has nothing to do with Relative clauses. You can read more about these constructions in my post on participles
and participle clauses.
There is somebody having a party upstairs.
There are some boys playing in the street.
I saw a young boy throwing a stone at the window.
I could hear my sister singing in the bath.
A native speaker simply wouldn't use a relative pronoun in these sentences, so if it isn't a relative clause in the first
place, we can hardly make it a reduced relative clause.

Wikipedia and the Garden Path effect


You can pretty well forget the Wikipedia entry on reduced relative clauses as being of any practical help in using them,
but it does talk about an interesting but pretty rare phenomenon known as the garden path effect.
Firstly, Wikipedia's definition of reduced relative clause is different from that used in EFL, giving as its main example:

Relative clause The man who/that I saw was big.


reduced relative clause The man I saw was big.
In EFL, we understand this to be simply dropping the relative pronoun when it refers to the object of the following verb.
This is not what we think of as a reduced relative clause, for reasons I talked about above.
The rest of the article does talk about the use of participles in reduced relative clauses, but is all about the 'garden
path effect', where their use can occasionally cause ambiguities. Just for fun we'll have a quick look at this, but it's
very unlikely you will ever have any problems of this nature.
Why garden path effect? - There is an idiom in English:
To lead someone up the garden path - to deceive somebody, to make them believe something which is not true
Wikipedia gives two examples of the garden path effect. How do you think these two sentences might continue?
The horse raced past the barn ...
The florist sent the flowers ...
We would probably expect raced and sent to be normal verbs in the Past Simple, with the sentences continuing
something like:
The horse raced past the barn and ran into a nearby field.
The florist sent the flowers to the address the customer had given her.
But raced and sent could also be past participles being used in reduced relative clauses with passive meaning, and
with the sentences continuing in a different way:
The horse (which was) raced past the barn fell and its rider came off.
The florist (who was) sent the flowers was very happy to get them.
Part of the ambiguity is in the use here of the verb race, which could have two possible meanings:
To run very fast
To ride or drive something, for example a horse or car, very fast
And of course we'd normally expect a florist to send flowers rather than receive them.

Reduced relative clauses refers to the shortening of a relative clause which modifies the
subject of a sentence. Reduced relative clauses can modify the subject NOT the object of a
sentence. Let's quickly review relative clauses to learn more. Once you understand the
rules, take the reduced relative clauses quiz to test your understanding. Teachers can use
the printable version of this quiz in class.

Relative clauses, also known as adjective clauses, modify nouns much like adjectives.
The man who works at Costco lives in Seattle.
I gave a book which was written by Hemingway to Mary last week.

In the examples above, who works at Costco modifies (provides information about) the
subject of the sentence 'The man'. In the second sentence, which was written by
Hemingway modifies the object 'book'. Using a reduced relative clause we can reduce the
first sentence to:

The man working at Costco lives in Seattle.

The second example sentence can not be reduced because the relative clause which was
written by Hemingway modifies an object of the verb 'give'.

Types of Reduced Relative Clauses

Relative clauses can also be reduced to shorter forms if the relative clause modifies the
subject of a sentence. Relative clause reduction refers to removing a relative pronounto
reduce:

An adjective/person who was happy -> happy person

An adjective phrase/man who was responsible for -> man responsible for

A prepositional phrase/boxes that are under the counter -> boxes under the counter

A past participle/student that was elected president -> student elected president

A present participle/people who are working on the report -> people working on the
report

Here are detailed descriptions and instructions on how to reduce each type of relative
clause:

Reduce to an Adjective

1. Remove the relative pronoun

2. Remove the verb (usually 'be', but also 'seem', 'appear', etc.)

3. Place the adjective used in the relative clause before the modified noun

Examples:

The children who were happy played until nine in the evening. -> Reduced: The happy
children played until nine in the evening.
The house which was beautiful was sold for $300,000. -> Reduced: The beautiful house
was sold for $300,000.

Reduce to an Adjective Phrase

1. Remove the relative pronoun


2. Remove the verb (usually 'be', but also 'seem', 'appear', etc.)

3. Place the adjective phrase after the modified noun

Examples:

The product, which seemed perfect in many ways, failed to succeed in the market.
-> Reduced: The product, perfect in many ways, failed to succeed in the market.
The boy who was pleased by his grades went out with his friends to celebrate.
-> Reduced: The boy pleased by his grades went out with his friends to celebrate.

Reduce to a Prepositional Phrase

1. Remove the relative pronoun

2. Remove the verb 'be'

3. Place the prepositional phrase after the modified noun

Examples:

The box which was on the table was made in Italy. -> Reduced: The box on the table was
made in Italy.
The woman who was at the meeting spoke about business in Europe. -> Reduced: The
woman at the meeting spoke about business in Europe./i>

Reduce to a Past Participle

1. Remove the relative pronoun

2. Remove the verb 'be'

3. Place the past participle before the modified noun

Examples:

The desk which was stained was antique. -> Reduced: The stained desk was antique.
The man who was elected was very popular. -> Reduced: The elected man was very
popular.

Reduce to an Past Participle Phrase

1. Remove the relative pronoun

2. Remove the verb 'be'

3. Place the past participle phrase after the modified noun

Examples:

The car which was purchased in Seattle was a vintage Mustang.-> Reduced: The car
purchased in Seattle was a vintage Mustang.
The elephant which was born in captivity was set free. -> Reduced: The elephant born
in captivity was set free.

Reduce to a Present Participle 1

1. Remove the relative pronoun

2. Remove the verb 'be'

3. Place the present participle phrase after the modified noun

Examples:

The professor who is teaching mathematics will leave the university. -> Reduced: The
professor teaching mathematics will leave the university.
The dog that is lying on the floor won't get up. -> Reduced: The dog lying on the floor
won't get up.

Reduce to a Present Participle 2

Some action verbs reduce to the present participle (ing form) especially when the present
tense is used.

1. Remove the relative pronoun

2. Change the verb to the present participle form

3. Place the present participle phrase after the modified noun

Examples:

The man who lives near my home walks to work every day. -> Reduced: The man living
near my home walks to work every day.
The girl who attends my school lives at the end of the street. -> Reduced: The girl
attending my school lives at the end of the street.