In Wren and Martin, there are examples given in which "who" introduces a co-ordinate clause which thus can't be an adjective clause.How's this possible.


1)I met Mr. Joshi, who thereupon shook hands with me.

In this sentence isn't the clause "who thereupon.....me" telling us more about Mr. Joshi ?

2)He relaeased the bird, which at once flew away.

The same case here ? How it's a co-ordinate clause and not adjective clause ?

But look at this "This is the boy who broke the window". It's written in the book that here "who broke the window" is an adjective clause.Isn't same as the above two examples ?

  • 2
    Although the third example differs from the first two in that the relative clause is restrictive only in the third example, I would still say that, in all three examples, the relative clauses function as adjectives, modifying the nouns "Mr. Joshi", "bird", and "boy". I would not call any of them coordinate clauses. Jul 29, 2018 at 2:34

1 Answer 1


Your first two examples have nonrestrictive relative clauses, so called because the relative clauses do not restrict the reference of the NP they go with. In these two examples, the relative clauses are not modifiers of a noun, because they do not give information that is required to figure out which individual is being referred to.

In the third example, however, "who broke the window" does restrict the reference of "boy" -- it's not just any boy, but specifically the one who broke the window. Now, the relative clause is a modifier of "boy".

  • In the first example, isn't the clause telling specifically that it was joshi with whom I shook hands ? I'm a beginner and resident of Pakistan.Here we don't have teachers that teach us well about grammar.It's just my nature to knwo every bit of the limited knowledge I have so, if you can explain it a little more or recommend me any book or site.
    – Abdul Ahad
    Feb 28, 2018 at 4:31
  • Yes. However, the fact that you shook hands with him is not being used to identify who you're talking about. Compare with a situation where you know several men named Joshi. Then, you might want to identify one of them as being the one you shook hands with: the Mr. Joshi with whom I shook hands. Then, the information that you shook hands with him is expressed with the restrictive relative clause "with whom I shook hands." // I'm not familiar with what English grammar texts are currently available -- Sorry.
    – Greg Lee
    Feb 28, 2018 at 14:52

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