Noun, adjective and verb clauses / の particle

Now I asked about the definition on clauses a week ago but am still kind of hazy regarding the topic. Some context first. I’m still studying the の particle, and it states in my guide:

“However, the 「の」 particle is very useful in that you don’t have to specify a particular noun. In the next examples, the 「の」 particle is not replacing any particular noun, it just allows us to modify verb and adjective clauses like noun clauses. The relative clauses are highlighted…”

Is relative clause an umbrella term for noun, verb and adjective clauses? And so in this respect are verb clauses are the part of the sentence containing the verb? And noun clauses containing the noun etc. Lastly, (likely a dumb question) what is the difference between an adjective and adjective clause? Are they not both giving more information about a noun

Also as kind of a side question, can anyone explain the reason why そ/こ/あ /ど +の must be used when we want to say “this/that noun”

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A relative clause is one which modifies the noun. So like in that sentence, it’s “which modifies the noun”. “Which modifies the noun” is the relative clause. (Edited for clarity, I was still thinking in Japanese mode.)

“A relative clause is one kind of dependent clause . It has a subject and verb, but can’t stand alone as a sentence. It is sometimes called an “adjective clause ” because it functions like an adjective—it gives more information about a noun.”

In Japanese it’d be something like “the book which my mom bought” or 母が買った本/ははがかったほん. So where does the の particle come into play? Well, we don’t always repeat the noun in English sentences when talking about the same subject, and the same is true for Japanese. So if someone says, “What book is that?” you might say, “The one my mom bought me.” In Japanese this would go something like this:
So here we are using a relative clause along with using の is a pronoun to take the place of the noun, in this case book/本.

As for この・その・あの・どの these are the demonstrative pronouns in Japanese if I’m not mistaken. In English we use one word whether speaking generally or referring to a noun but in Japanese they have 2 different sets, that’s all. I’m not sure if there’s much more reason to it than that. Hopefully someone else knows more than I do on that subject.


What ? That’s a really confusing example. What is the sentence and what is the relative clause ?

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  • “The bit which modifies the noun is called a relative clause.” = sentence
  • “The bit which modifies the noun” = noun phrase
  • “The bit” = noun
  • “which modifies the noun” = relative clause, because it’s a clause that relates the noun (“the bit”) in terms of some characteristic and extends the noun phrase from its base noun, which we call the “head” of the phrase.

Japanese’s equivalent to relative clauses are attributive clauses, so in a noun phrase they attribute something to a noun.

  • 名詞変えるは「relative clause」といいます。 = sentence
  • 名詞を変える物 = noun phrase
  • 物 = noun
  • 名詞を変える = attributive clause… which in Japanese is also a grammatical sentence

Why specifically call it attributive and not relative? Because attribution works for more than just clauses… attributive and predicate forms have their own special terms in Japanese’s own description of its grammar, even.

Japanese grammar became a lot clearer for me once I sussed out attribution versus predication, and that the “head” of the phrase always lands at the end of the phrase.

The predicate form is for the end of the sentence (not counting trailing particles like ね or conjunctions like けど). The attributive form is for sticking to head words to flesh out that head word with some extra description or context.

  • verbs - attributive: 帰る - predicate: 帰る or 帰ります, お帰りなります, etc
  • i-adjectives - attributive: 可愛い - predicate: 可愛い or 可愛いです
  • nouns - attributive form: 猫の - predicate form: 猫だ or 猫です or 猫であります etc
  • na-adjectives - attributive: 静かな - predicate: 静かだ (etc)

In Japanese, the head of the phrase is always at the end, as opposed to English where it’s closer to the beginning… or not. The closest English structures to how Japanese works are our adjectives and adjective-like verb phrases (the tall man; the singing man; the dog-hating cat). So noun phrases with attributive clauses in Japanese are like adjective or adjective-style verb phrases in English (or German).

Hope that helps!


In the sentence “A relative clause is one which modifies the noun”, “which modifies the noun” is the relative clause, because it modifies the noun “one”. :slightly_smiling_face:

Very good explanation!

どれの is not the same as どの. これ/それ/あれ/どれ are nouns. どれの本ですか means ‘the book of which is it?’ Where ‘which’ could maybe stand in for ‘which book case’, or something?

この、その、あの、どの can not be used as a standalone, but will always be followed by a noun (or relative clause+noun combo).