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    ian2 is offline Member
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    Definition of attributive clause

    I was trying to find the definition of attributive clause vs. relative clause in this website, but failed to find "attributive clause". I know they refer to the same clause, but are probably viewed differently. But what is the definition to make them apart? Thanks.

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    Re: Definition of attributive clause

    To my understanding--I have a few questions myself about the topic--an attributive clause is one that functions adjectivally. Relative clauses include relative adverbial clauses; e.g., It started to snow when I left work, which are different from attributive clauses introduced by a relative adverb:

    Ex: It was last year when we met. <adjectival/attributive>

    The relative clause when we met functions adjectivally. The adverb when heads the clause we met, which modifies the noun last year.

    Let's test it:

    Test 1: It was last year we met.
    <You can omit when and the sentence remains grammatical>

    Test 2: It was last year that we met.
    <You can switch when with that and the sentence remains grammatical>

    Test 3: Last year is when we met.
    <You can omit expletive-it and add in a copular>



    From Armchair Grammarian
    A relative clause is occasionally introduced by a relative adverb: where, when, or why. A relative clause is a subordinate adjective clause whose referent is a noun or pronoun located within the main sentence clause. The word relative describes a word that refers or relates to another word or phrase within the sentence; this word or phrase of reference is called the antecedent, which is always a noun or pronoun located within the main sentence clause. Although the entire relative clause introduced by a relative adverb is adjectival, and functions to modify a noun or pronoun within the main sentence clause, the relative adverb itself modifies a verb within its own subordinate clause.
    Does that help?
    Last edited by Casiopea; 08-Jun-2007 at 11:58.

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    ian2 is offline Member
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    Re: Definition of attributive clause

    Quote Originally Posted by Casiopea View Post
    To my understanding--I have a few questions myself about the topic--an attributive clause is one that functions adjectivally. Relative clauses include relative adverbial clauses; e.g., It started to snow when I left work, which are different from attributive clauses introduced by a relative adverb:

    Ex: It was last year when we met. <adjectival/attributive>

    The relative clause when we met functions adjectivally. The adverb when heads the clause we met, which modifies the noun last year.

    Let's test it:

    Test 1: It was last year we met.
    <You can omit when and the sentence remains grammatical>

    Test 2: It was last year that we met.
    <You can switch when with that and the sentence remains grammatical>

    Test 3: Last year is when we met.
    <You can omit expletive-it and add in a copular>








    From Armchair Grammarian
    A relative clause is occasionally introduced by a relative adverb: where, when, or why. A relative clause is a subordinate adjective clause whose referent is a noun or pronoun located within the main sentence clause. The word relative describes a word that refers or relates to another word or phrase within the sentence; this word or phrase of reference is called the antecedent, which is always a noun or pronoun located within the main sentence clause. Although the entire relative clause introduced by a relative adverb is adjectival, and functions to modify a noun or pronoun within the main sentence clause, the relative adverb itself modifies a verb within its own subordinate clause.
    Does that help?
    I am not sure we should call the following a relative clause:

    It started to snow when I left work,

    as you can always put "when I left work" at the beginning of the sentence: When I let work, it started to snow. "WHEN" clause here is clearly an adverbial clause. To me, a relative clause must have a noun to modify. But in this case, there is no noun to be modified by WHEN clause. All the other sentences qualify as relative clause: TESTs 1,2,and 3 contain a relative clause modifying LAST YEAR in all three sentences.

    But the distinction between relative and attributive is still not clear. Thanks again.
    Last edited by ian2; 08-Jun-2007 at 23:50.

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    Re: Definition of attributive clause

    Quote Originally Posted by ian2 View Post
    I am not sure we should call the following a relative clause:

    It started to snow when I left work
    Your observation is correct. It's not a Relative Clause (RC) in the strict sense of the term (i.e., an attributive clause). It's an adverbial clause that is relative to the time of the event, which makes it a relative, adverbial clause.


    Here's a definition that might help:
    an attributive clause is a subordinate clause that functions as an attribute of a noun phrase. Attributive clauses refer to and qualify a noun (or a pronoun) in the main clause.
    Attributive clauses that are introduced by an introductory word are called relative clauses.
    Introductory words: relative pronouns, relative adverbs, and participles in reduced relative clauses.

    Does that help so far?

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