Contact Clauses

contact clauses

What is a contact clause?

Contact clauses (CCs) are a type of relative clause. The difference being that with a contact clause, we get rid of the relative pronoun (who, that, which etc).

What is a relative clause?

To recap, a relative clause is a type of clause that is used to add extra information to the clause that precedes it.

I want to know the person who did this.

In this sentence, the main clause is “I want to know the person”. We then add our relative clause “who did this” to give extra information. In this example “who” is our relative pronoun.

Back to contact clauses

As we mentioned before, our CCs are a type of clause where we can drop the relative pronoun. This dropping of a relative pronoun however can sound odd sometimes with certain clauses. In general if the relative pronoun is the subject of a sentence then it should not be dropped. Here are some examples where we can drop it: –

What was that thing I gave you yesterday?

(instead of “What was that thing that I gave you yesterday?”)

This is that person I told you about.

(instead of “This is that person whom I told you about.”)

That’s the reason I didn’t go.

(instead of “That’s the reason why I didn’t go.”)

In these sentences the relative pronoun is not the subject so we can drop them. However, in the the sentences below, the relative pronoun is the subject and therefore we must keep it in.

I want to speak to the person who kicked the ball.

That dress that was for sale has gone already!

That is the reason why running from the police is stupid.

A good way to remember whether you can drop the relative pronoun when trying to make contact clauses is this: –

If a verb comes after the relative pronoun then you can’t drop it.


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