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Restrictive and Unrestrictive Elements with Examples

Class 8
Jun 9, 2023

Restrictive and Unrestrictive Elements

  • A restrictive element introduces details necessary to the meaning of the sentence. A non-restrictive element can be removed without affecting the purpose.
  • Non-restrictive clauses are typically separated from the independent clause by commas, whereas restrictive clauses don’t need to be punctuated.
  • A sentence may have restrictive or non-restrictive elements, depending on its information.
  • A restrictive clause alters the noun that comes before it. Such nouns are limited or identified by restrictive clauses, which are indispensable to the meaning of a phrase and cannot be eliminated.
  • That, whom, or whose are frequently used to introduce restrictive clauses. A restrictive clause an have an identifying function.
  • A non-restrictive clause does not change the meaning of the sentence as a whole. They are dispensable to the definition of a phrase and can be eliminated. A non-restrictive clause provides a non-essential description of a noun.
  • Non-restrictive clauses offer extra, optional descriptors to a sentence that can be removed without changing the meaning or structure of the sentence.
  • Because they are crucial to the sentence’s meaning, restrictive elements don’t require commas to divide them from the rest of the sentence.
  • Non-restrictive elements should be separated from the remainder of the sentence by commas since they are unnecessary to the sentence’s meaning.
  • Generally, restrictive elements are denoted by “that,” while non-restrictive clauses are represented by “which.”

For example

The team that won the game is my favorite.

The team, which won the game, is my favorite.

  • The fact that the team won the game is significant in the first clause since it identifies which team. In this situation, the second sentence would only be used if the reader already knew what group was being referred to because it treats the same information as not necessary in the statement.
  • The same word sometimes denotes both restrictive and non-restrictive elements.

For example

He helped the police officers who were sick with covid.


He helped the police officers who were sick with covid.

  • This is a restrictive clause because there is no comma before “who.” This reveals to the reader that not every police officer had been infected with Covid. The comma before “who” creates a non-restrictive clause for the following sentences. Additionally, this alters the language to indicate that Covid has infected all the police officers.
Restrictive and unrestrictive elements


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