Restrictive and Nonrestrictive Clauses Exercise (600)

In each of the following sentences, revise the sentence according to whether it contains a restrictive or a nonrestrictive clause.

Answers and Explanations

1.
Original: The early removal of children from parents’ care is historically promoted in socialistic countries, not in free societies which respect parental rights.
Correct : The early removal of children from parents’ care is historically promoted in socialistic countries, not in free societies that respect parental rights.

The use of "which" in this sentence might confuse the reader into thinking that it refers to all free societies respecting parental rights, but that’s not the point of the sentence. The use of "that" instead of "which" clarifies that the emphasis is on those societies that respect parental rights.

2.
Original: The set also has the Chop ’n Serve knife that allows you to cut whatever you’re cutting and scoop it into a receptacle.
Correct : The set also has the Chop ’n Serve knife, which allows you to cut whatever you’re cutting and scoop it into a receptacle.

"That," after the product name, implies that more than one such model of knife exists and that this particular model, but no other by that name, enables the mentioned functions. But the phrase that follows "knife" merely describes what the one-and-only Chop ’n Serve knife does, so the phrase, preceded by a comma, must begin with "which."

3.
Original: Is this the movie that you were talking about?
Correct : Is this the movie that you were talking about?

This sentence is correct, although "that" is optional.

4.
Original: The wildfire that scorched 375 acres was 25 percent contained Wednesday morning.
Correct : The wildfire, which scorched 375 acres, was 25 percent contained Wednesday morning.

Unless there was a previous reference to more than one wildfire and this sentence is detailing the extent of one of them, the phrase describing the size of the wildfire (which was previously mentioned without any reference to other wildfires) is parenthetical and should begin with "which" and be set off by commas.

5.
Original: The book that I left here on the table this morning is missing.
Correct : The book that I left here on the table this morning is missing.

This sentence is correct, because the modifying phrase "that I left here on the table" is essential to understand its meaning. (As in the third example, "that" is not necessary.)

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