The term relative clause is one that you are likely to have heard of by now unless you are new to OET writing. For some reason, the term sounds like it is going to be really complicated and confusing (like much grammatical terminology!) but don’t worry it’s not as hard as you think to construct a relative clause and it is a really neat way of including more information in a sentence.
Erm, so what is a clause again?
A clause is just a part of a sentence, so nothing to be scared of there. There are different types of clauses that have different functions within the sentence. For example, you have probably heard of an independent clause (part of a sentence that can stand alone) and an independent (or subordinate) clause (part of a sentence that doesn’t make sense alone and needs another clause to join with.
And what is a relative clause?
A relative clause is a type of subordinate clause, so it is dependent on another clause to function. What makes relative clauses unique is that it is used to add information about a noun.
To do this, it uses a relative pronoun:
- For a person, this will usually be who, but can also be that or whose.
- For a thing, this which usually be which, but can be that or whose.
- For place and time, where and when are used.
How should I use a relative clause in my OET Writing?
In OET writing, the most common relative pronoun used is who, as you are giving more information about the patient, but it is worth being aware of the other uses.
A relative clause can come in the middle or the end of a sentence. Let’s have a look at some now we have the basics of the function.
- I am writing to refer Mrs Jones, who presented with symptoms and signs of multiple sclerosis.
- Mr Perkins, who smokes 20 cigarettes per day, suffers from asthma.
- The operation, which was successful, was carried out under general anaesthetic.
- Miss Williams, who has been a patient at our practice for 10 years, presented yesterday with highly elevated blood pressure.
- The patient, whose parents both suffered from diabetes, has elevated insulin levels.
As you can see, the purpose is quite evident; to add more information about the noun (usually the patient) into one succinct, concise sentence.
It is suggested to use a relative clause in the first paragraph (introduction) of the OET letter when you are providing information about the main condition, diagnosis or circumstance or in the second paragraph when you are often providing patient history details.
Using a relative clause is a really handy way of adding details to a sentence and it fits with the professional style of the OET letter. We would suggest including at least one, if not two relative clauses in your letter to impress the assessors.