Examples of Relative Clause Starting with ‘Which’

Before we get to the examples, here is a quick 101 on grammar governing such clauses. If you already know this, you can jump straight to examples.

Grammar of relative clause starting with which

Which-relative-clause describes a noun or noun phrase

A relative clause is a dependent clause that functions like an adjective in describing nouns. That’s why it’s also called an adjective clause. Since it’s a dependent clause, it contains its own subject-verb unit and needs the support of an independent clause. Example:

Diamond, which is extremely hard and expensive, is produced by intense heat and under great pressure.

Note: In all the examples, relative clause has been underlined and noun (or noun phrase) being described by the relative clause has been shown in magenta font.

In the above sentence, the relative clause which is extremely hard and expensive describes the noun Diamond, and it starts with the relative pronoun which. If you recall, a relative clause always starts with one of the relative pronouns (who, whom, whose, that, and which) or relative adverbs (where, when, and why). The relative pronoun which is used to refer to animals and things, and it is arguably the most-used of the seven.

Which-relative-clause can be restrictive (though rarely used) or non-restrictive

To remind you the basic difference between restrictive and non-restrictive clause, a restrictive clause is an essential part of the sentence as it makes the noun specific, and it comes without commas. If you drop a restrictive clause, the sentence would lose some of its meaning. A non-restrictive clause, in contrast, is not an essential part of the sentence as it merely adds extra information, and it comes with a pair of commas. If you drop a non-restrictive clause, the sentence wouldn’t lose any of its meaning.

Relative clause starting with which is almost always used in non-restrictive flavor. It can theoretically be used in restrictive flavor as well, but in such use, relative clause starting with that is preferred.  (See post on which vs. that to get into details of this.) In the first example we saw, the relative clause is non-restrictive. Here is an example of restrictive which clause.

The gemstone which was found in the Musgrave Ranges of Australia was valued at nearly $35,000 per carat. [That would be the preferred option though]

Without the relative clause, we wouldn’t know which gemstone was valued so high, and hence we can’t drop it, implying that it’s a restrictive clause. Learn more about restrictive and non-restrictive clauses:

Which-relative-clause can also describe an entire clause

We just saw that relative clause starting with which describes a noun, but, unlike any other relative clause, it can also describe an entire clause. In this role, it is called sentential relative clause. Example:

He failed the exam, which was not surprising.

In this sentence, the relative clause which was not surprising is describing the entire preceding clause He failed the exam and not just the preceding noun phrase the exam.

Sentential relative clause introduced by which is different from the regular relative clause introduced by which. Whereas the former describes the entire preceding clause, the latter describes the preceding noun. Whereas the former is always preceded by a comma, the latter may (for non-restrictive) or may not be (for restrictive).

That’s all on the grammar front. Let’s get into examples now.

In this post, we’ll look at examples of relative clause starting with which, which are essentially also the examples of relative pronoun which. The examples have been divided into three categories:

  1. Examples of non-restrictive relative clause which
  2. Examples of restrictive relative clause which
  3. Examples of sentential relative clause which

Examples of non-restrictive relative clause starting with which

The school library, which is next to the cafeteria, is my favorite place in the school.

Hannah is attending Brown University, which was her first choice.

Millions have succumbed to Corona virus, which has now spread to even Antarctica.

When learning something new, we’ve to go through several necessary steps, which take time and which are sometimes not to our liking. [Comment: Two relative clauses]

An assignment without a careful review may contain silly mistakes, which will lower your marks.

Much better than learning from own mistakes is to learn from the mistakes of others, which have been documented in books and elsewhere.

Would you like one piece of your favourite dessert in hand or the possibility of two, which may or may not come true?

We’re already seeing the adverse effect, which seems to intensify every year, of untold exploitation of nature.

If you’re skilled in something, which may or may not be your core area, display it through one or the other platforms.

If you’re not a fresh graduate, recruiters will come to know of you through the perception people have about you, which they form by speaking to your former colleagues.

Too much money can lead to vices and bad habits, which ruin people.

Although I’m disappointed with how my business has fared recently, it is at least bringing in a steady income, which helps me put food on the table every day.

Good bargains can be tempting and entice people into buying unnecessary items, many of which go unused. [Relative pronouns may be preceded by prepositions or quantifiers. Here, it’s quantifier many.]

Examples of restrictive relative clause starting with which

Instead of complaining about every problem we face, why can’t we take steps to solve at least those which are manageable.

In Aesop’s fable, the mouse helps the lion by biting off the net in which he was trapped by the hunters. [Relative pronoun preceded by preposition in]

How would you feel if others do the same (look down upon) to you in matters in which they’re superior to you? [Relative pronoun preceded by preposition in]

Many times, we curse ourselves endlessly for making the decision which led to some misfortune.

In mass extinction events such as the one in which dinosaurs went extinct, animals which need plenty of food and animals which eat limited variety of food go extinct first. [Two relative clauses]

Sometimes, we come across an issue which prima-facie looks an open-and-shut case, and we jump to conclusion.

Don’t ask questions which people can’t or don’t want to answer.

You can’t put a person in a role for which he doesn’t possess skills. [Relative pronoun preceded by preposition for]

Everyone speaks well of the bridge which carries him over.

Even though the industry looks stable with predictable market share and revenue, you should be wary of obscure start-ups which may threaten your company in future.

Happiness is the cosmetic which everyone should aspire to use.

Examples of sentential relative clause starting with which

Our grandfather ensured that all family members come together at least once a week for dinner, which likely was the reason why our family was so close-knit. [The which clause, preceded by a comma, is describing the entire preceding clause Our grandfather…dinner.]

Any worthwhile task requires you to move out of your comfort zone and attempt new things, which inherently involves some discomfort, some pain.

In business, things may go wrong, which will put cracks in your relationships.

You’re now in your third industry in the last eight years, which doesn’t make you an expert in any of them.

What I said was just for saying and not for adding any value to the discussion, which naturally raised few surprised looks.

The pilot was suffering from depression for few weeks, which could have been the reason behind the crash.

Many get so tunnel-focused that they fail to see paths other than their current job, which may ironically be hurting their pursuit of happiness.

You must take the bull by horns, which means take on challenging matters head on right in the beginning instead of shying away from them.

Try staying in the field in which you’ve at least some expertise. Otherwise, you’ll have to start from scratch, which will be a long haul, and your earlier knowledge will go waste. [The first relative clause belongs to the second category.]

Newton got curious when he saw an apple falling from a tree, which eventually led to his theory of gravitation.

Not much has changed in the town in the last ten years, which is not surprising.

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