Basically the title. What is the difference between relative clauses, noun phrases, and verb phrases. Examples?
A relative clause is a subset of a sentence that defines or clarifies the main clause. For example, “the red book, which is on the table”, “which is on the table” is a relative clause that specifies which red book we’re talking about.
A noun phrase is a bunch of words together which collectively function as a noun, while a verb phrase is a bunch of words together which collectively function as a verb. Quite frequently verb phrases modify noun phrases as relative clauses. To use my example above, “the red book” is a noun phrase - collectively, they behave like the noun “book”. “Is on the table” is a verb phrase (though admittedly in English it’s difficult to spot).
The same sentence in Japanese is テーブルの上にある赤い本.
テーブルの上にある is a verb phrase and relative clause which modifies 赤い本, which is a noun phrase.
In Japanese, you can have some pretty complex verb and noun phrases.
Thanks. So does a verb phrase always end in a verb? And is a relative clause basically just additional information to the main clause?
In English we have ‘restrictive’ relative clauses and ‘non-restrictive’ relative clauses. A restrictive relative clause is there to specify which particular instance of the noun you’re talking about, while a non-restrictive relative clause is just additional information. The difference in English is that a non-restrictive relative clause is marked by a comma while a restrictive relative clause isn’t.
The man who fell to earth - restrictive, distinguishing him from other men.
The man, who fell to earth - non-restrictive, just providing additional information.
So, in Japanese, there is mostly no difference between how to write restrictive and non-restrictive relative clauses - they look the same - but a relative clause could fulfill either function.
Also, when the subject isn’t a human, restrictive clauses use “which”, and while non-restrictive clauses can use either “that” or “which”, some authorities tend to prefer “that”.
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