Reduced Relative Clauses

How to reduce relative clauses to a modified noun

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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 pronoun to 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.