Attributive clauses serve as an attribute to a noun (pronoun) in the principal clause. This noun or pronoun is called the antecedent of the clause. According to their meaning and the way they are connected with the principal clause attributive clauses are divided into relative and appositive ones.
Attributive relative clauses qualify the antecedent, whereas attributive appositive clauses disclose its meaning.
Usually an attributive clause immediately follows its antecedent, although some types may occasionally be distant.
The facts those men were so eager to know had been visible, tangible, open to the senses. (ATTRIBUTIVE RELATIVE CLAUSE)
The fortunate fact that the rector's letter did not require an immediate answer would give him time to consider. (ATTRIBUTIVE APPOSITIVE CLAUSE)
An attributive clause may be introduced by connectives - relative pronouns who, whose, whom, what, which, that, as, or relative adverbs when, where, whence, whereby, wherein. The choice of relative word depends on the categorical meaning of the antecedent.
a) If the antecedent denotes a living being, the relative pronoun who, whom, whose, or that is used.
A man whose voice seemed familiar to me gave commands.
Those of Big Lanny’s friends who saw him for the first time had to be told that he couldn’t see.
b) If the antecedent denotes a thing or notion, the relative word which, whose, or that is used; of these that is less formal.
At thisremark, to which he did not reply, Gerald's ears grew hot.
He went to the nexthouse, which stood in a small garden.
Clyde bowed and then took the coolhand that Myra extended to him.
Which may be used with reference to animals, although they are living beings.
He called back his dog, which returned obediently to its master
c) If the antecedent is expressed by all denoting a living being the pronoun who or that is used; if it denotes a thing or notion only the pronoun that is generally used.
All that remained was to enter his name and send off the high entrance fees for the examination.
d) If the antecedent is expressed by everything, something, anything or nothing the relative pronoun that is generally used, or else the clause is joined asyndetically.
There wasnothing in his face that spoke of his character.
Everything that you may want is in the wardrobe.
There wassomething in his low, languid voice that was absolutely fascinating.
e) If the antecedent is modified by the adjective only, the pronoun any, or by an adjective in the superlative degree, the attributive clause is introduced by the pronoun that or is joined asyndetically.
Theonly object that gave her satisfaction during those days was the white monkey.
This is thebest chance that we have.
She could jump atany opportunity that she might have.
f) If the antecedent is modified by the demonstrative pronoun such, the relative pronoun as is used.
She was playing the piano withsuch feeling as couldn't he expected from a girl of her age.
g) After the antecedent modified by same, several relative expressions may be used:
the same children as..., the same person who..., the same island that...,
the same time when..., the same place where..., etc.
h) Attributive clauses joined by the relative adverbs when, where, whence, whereon (rather obsolete) refer to antecedents designating spatial or temporal notions.
It is thehour when we sleep.
He turned to that hugeglobe whereon were marked all discoveries of the moment concerning the origin of modern Man...
i) The relative adverb why refers to antecedents denoting cause or reason.
They see noreason why they should not do so.
Types of attributive clauses
I. Attributive relative clauses can be restrictive (defining) and non-restrictive or descriptive (non-defining).
1. An attributive relative restrictive clause restricts the meaning of the antecedent. It cannot be removed without destroying the meaning of the sentence. It is not separated by a comma from the principal clause because of its close connection with it. Attributive relative restrictive clauses are introduced by:
a) relative pronouns who, whose, which, that, as;
b) relative adverbs where, when;
You could not but feel sympathy for a man who took so much delight in simple things.
…but there is no private life which has not been determined by a wider, public life.
All that could be done had been done.
He sang a loud song... such a song as the Spanish wagoneers sing in Algeria.
And he is now come to that stage of life when a man like him should enter into public affairs.
They spoke no more all the way back to the lodging where Fanny and her uncle lived.
There was simply nothing else he could do.
I think my father is the best man I have ever known.
2. An attributive relative non-restrictive clause does not restrict the meaning of the antecedent; it gives some additional information about it. It can be left out without destroying the meaning of the sentence. As the connection between the principal clause and the attributive non-restrictive clause is loose, they are often separated by a comma.
Attributive relative non-restrictive clauses are in most cases introduced syndetically by means of:
a) relative pronouns who, which;
b) relative adverbs where, when.
Mr. Prusty, who kept no assistant, slowly got off his stool.
She uttered a wild scream, which in its heart-rending intensity seemed to echo for miles.
He went in alone to the dining-room where the table was laid for one.
The relative pronoun that is hardly ever used to introduce an attributive relative non-restrictive clause.
He had emotion, fire, longings, that were concealed behind a wall of reserve.
3. A variant of the attributive non-restrictive clause is the continuative clause, whose antecedent is not one word but a whole clause.
Continuative clauses are always separated from the principal clause by a comma. A continuative clause is introduced by the relative pronoun which, rendered in Russian by the pronoun что.
Mr. Manston was not indoors, which was a relief to her.
For this purpose they probably lowered the bridge, which can be done quite noiselessly.
But to-day... he had slept only in snatches, which was worse than not sleeping at all.