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Relative Clauses


By Gerald P. Berent, Ph.D.
Department of Research
National Technical Institute for the Deaf
Rochester Institute of Technology

Major Considerations

1. Relative clauses are “embedded” grammatical structures, contained inside other grammatical structures.

2. Relative clauses play a central role in English discourse.

3. Relative clause knowledge is important for reading comprehension and written expression.

4. Relative clauses can be confused with other similar-looking grammatical structures.

5. There are different types of relative clauses with different properties.

6. Some relative clauses contain “gaps,” where it looks like a sentence element is missing.

7. Relative clauses pose a considerable challenge for deaf students.

8. Deaf students have a better command of some relative clause types than other types.

9. Sentences containing relative clauses can be simplified to make English texts and tests more accessible to deaf students.

10. Course materials can be structured to enhance students’ knowledge of English relative clauses.