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Relative clauses (Relative clauses) are clauses added on to a main clause (main clause) that provide additional information about a noun. They cannot stand on their own but must be part of a sentence. They are introduced by relative pronouns (relative pronoun). We have them in English, too - they are usually introduced by "who" or "that" or "which". For instance:

He's the man. He bought a house.He's the man who bought a house.
I have a car. I drive the car to work.I have a car that I drive to work.

In German, those sentences would be:

He is the man. He bought a house.He's the man who bought a house.
I have a car. I drive the car to work.I have a car that I drive to work.

In German, the relative pronouns ("who" or "that") are for the most part the same as the definite articles the, the, the. The only exception is in the dative plural, which takes the form those.

NOMAKKDAT
MASKthethethe
FEMthethethe
NEWthethethe
PLURthethethose

Note that where English distinguishes between "who" for people and "that" or "which" for things, German does not. German does distinguish between the case of the relative pronoun (we used to do this in English by using "who" and "whom"). Please note that, in the examples we'll be doing, German NEVER uses "who" as a relative pronoun.

Figuring out which relative pronoun to use:
Although it seems hard at first, deciding which relative pronoun (the, the, the, etc) to use is not that bad. You have to find out TWO things: what gender / number (masc, neut, fem, pl) we're talking about, AND what case it needs.
The gender and number of the relative pronoun are the same as the the noun to which they refer (called the antecedent, the reference word), found in the main clause. As an example: in the sentences above, we know that we're talking about ONE MAN and ONE CAR, respectively.
The case of the relative pronoun is found in the relative clause itself (not the main clause). In our examples, the man bought a house. The man is the subject of that clause; therefore, the relative pronoun will be in the nominative case (the). In the second sentence, I drive the car, so the car is the direct object = accusative case (the).

The Four Steps:
1.Find the antecedent (Reference word): what are we referring to?
2.Determine the gender and number of the antecedent: how many and what gender?
3.Figure out how the relative pronoun is used in the relative clause (subject, direct object, indirect object, object of a preposition) and which case that will require.
4.Determine the correct relative pronoun given what you now know.


Some comments on word order:
The relative clause is always preceded by a comma. If the relative clause ends the sentence, then it ends with a period. If it gets stuck in the middle of the sentence (e.g. "The children who came here were my friends") then it is set off with commas on both sides ("The children who came here were my friends.")
The finite (conjugated) verb comes at the end of the relative clause. Separable prefix verbs are reunited and written as one word (e.g. "I have a friend who gets up at 8 o'clock.")
In English, we often leave out the "that" relative pronoun ("The film I saw last night was bad" is really "The film THAT I saw last night ..."). In German you cannot omit the relative pronoun from a sentence - you must always have a the, the, the or something.
You cannot separate the relative pronoun from any preposition that goes with it. In English, we say "The man who I'm talking to is over there" - in German that has to be "The man I am talking to is there.")
The relative clause wants to be as close to the noun it is describing as possible. This isn't a strict rule, but you'll see some examples of how the relative clause can be put in the middle of the sentence rather than at the end.


Combining two sentences into one. If two sentences contain the same noun, or pronouns which refer to the same noun, they can often be combined with a relative pronoun to form one sentence.

The glass is broken. The glass fell off the table.The glass that fell off the table is broken.
The glass is broken. The glass fell from the table.The glass that fell from the table is broken.


Try a few yourself. These will be pronouns in the nominative and accusative cases.

1.We bought bread. The bread was already two days old.
We bought bread when ______________ was two days old.
2.The job is good. I got it last week.
The job I got _____________ last week is good.
3.Did you see the woman Her name is Annegret.
Have you seen the woman whose name is ______________ Annegret?
4.This is the car. Sabine bought the car.
_________________________________________________________________________________________________________
5.I have a dog. My dog ​​bit the postman.
_________________________________________________________________________________________________________


Relative clauses also occur with dative forms and with prepositions.

The woman to whom I gave the book was very happy.
The woman I gave the book to was very happy.

The family with whom I live is very friendly.
The family I live with is very friendly.


Remember that in English, the preposition often occurs at the end of the relative clause (the woman I gave the book to), but in German, the preposition will begin the relative clause. Again:

That is the house that I lived in.
This is the house where I lived.


1.The bus is yellow. I am waiting for this bus.
The bus I'm waiting for ___________ is yellow.
2.I forgot the woman's name. I spoke to her yesterday.
I forgot the name of the woman I spoke to ___________ _____________ yesterday.
3.This is the merchant. I wrote the letter for him.
This is the businessman __________ _____________ I wrote the letter.
4.We know the young man. Our neighbors live with him.
_________________________________________________________________________________________________________
5.The children are our friends. We played with them in the garden.
_________________________________________________________________________________________________________


Here are some mixed sentences to try. Remember to check (a) the gender and number of the antecedent, and (b) the case in the relative clause.

1.This is the man. He was sitting next to me.
This is the man who _____________ sat next to me.
2.This is the computer. We used it last week.
This is the computer _____________ we used last week.
3.Where are the people? I should help you.
Where are the people ______________ I should help?
4.I am going on a trip. I am looking forward to the journey.
I'm going on a trip I'm looking forward to ____________.
5.The professor speaks to the seller. She wants to buy the car.
The professor, _______________________________________________________________, speaks to the seller.
6.Do you want to see the house I grew up in the house (= grow up).
Do you want to see the house, ____________________________________________________________________________?
7.Is that your German book? It's on the table.
Is that your German book, _______________________________________________________________________________?
8.Here is the book. We should read it.
Here is the book, _______________________________________________________________________________________.
9.These are the gorillas. I'm afraid of them.
_________________________________________________________________________________________________________
10.Where is the man? You gave him the money.
_________________________________________________________________________________________________________
11.Professor Chavez is a woman. I can talk to her.
_________________________________________________________________________________________________________
12.The woman is very nice. You work for them.
_________________________________________________________________________________________________________