Reduced Adjective Clauses

An adjective clause, just like an adjective, modifies a noun or a pronoun. It is called a clause because it has a subject and a verb. The adjective clauses can be reduced to phrases in our day to day conversation. The reduced clauses are less wordy and are used to shorten the sentences. Note that we generally use reduced clauses only in speaking and not in writing.

Rules to reduce the clause:

  1. The subject should be common in main clause as well as adjective clause, in other words, reduced forms cannot be used for adjective clauses formed with object pronouns.
  2. The verb in adjective clause should be in –ing form (V1+-ing), simple present form (V1), or passive form (V3).


a. I love the dresses which are bought by my mom.
In this sentence, we can reduced the clause and rewrite the sentence as following:
I love the cups bought by my mom.

b. The guy who is standing over there is my brother.
This sentence can be rewritten as: The guy standing over there is my brother.

c. I know the guy whom you are looking for.
This sentence cannot be reduced. Here, the subjects in the main clause and adjective clause are different; in short, ‘whom’ is an object pronoun and we don’t reduce the adjective clause with object pronoun.

The steps to reduce a clause:

  1. Remove the relative pronoun
  2. Remove the be verb
  3. If the main verb is in simple present form (e.g. participate), add –ing after it (i.e. participating)


Original sentence: The tree which was right in front of our house has been chopped.
Reduced sentence: The tree right in front of our house has been chopped.

Original sentence: I want a desk which does not need to be mounted.
Reduced sentence: I want a desk not needing to be mounted.


Sometimes, after reducing the clause, we are only left with an adjective, in such case, write the adjective just before the noun or pronoun it modifies.


Original sentence: The glass, which is broken, is discarded.
Reduced: The broken glass is discarded.

Original sentence: The lady, who is rich, bought a big mansion.
Reduced: The rich lady bought a big mansion.

Let us see how reduced clause is used in this short story:

“When I got home, my mother had an old fish bowl filled with water.” (I found a frog,

Here, instead of writing ‘fish bowl which was filled with water’, the author writes ‘fish bowl filled with water’.

Final thoughts: It is alright if you do not reduce your adjective clauses. Some examples from regular conversations where clauses are not reduced:

“Write the essays that inspire”. (grammarly)

“I’m surrounded by people who are supposed to guide me and some of them have and others haven’t.” (dialogue from Selena Gomez’s speech at the 2014 first-ever We Day in California)


Image credits:

  1. Image by Kollakolla from Pixabay
  2. Selena Gomez

Link to Selena Gomez’s 2014 Speech, click HERE


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