Non - Defining Relative Clauses

You will study the expression Non - Defining Relative Clauses.


Non - Defining Relative Clauses

Papuan people

Imagen: Children in Papua New Guinea. Creative Commons.

Instructions: Read the text. Look at the words in bold.

Papuan is an umbrella term for the various indigenous peoples of New Guinea and neighboring islands, speakers of the Papuan languages. They are often distinguished ethnically and linguistically from Austronesias, speakers of a language family introduced into New Guinea about three thousand years ago.

Whatever the origin of the name Papua, it came to be associated with Halmahera, which was known to the Portuguese by this name during the era of their colonization in this part of the world.

Papuan people. Retrieved and adapted May, 2017 from

Getting started: Current population

Instructions: Read the text to do the activity suggested.

The current population of the island of New Guinea is about eleven million. Many believe human habitation on the island dates to as early as 50,000 BC, and first settlement possibly dating back to 60,000 years ago has been proposed. The island is presently populated by almost a thousand different tribal groups and a near-equivalent number of separate languages, which makes New Guinea the most linguistically diverse area in the world. Ethnologue’s 14th edition lists 826 languages of Papua New Guinea and 257 languages of Irian Jave, total 1073 languages, with 12 languages overlapping. They fall into one of two groups, the Papuan languages and the Austronesian languages.

The separation was not merely linguistic: warfare among societies was a factor in the evolution of the men’s house: separate housing of groups of adult men, from the single-family houses of the women and children, for mutual protection against the other groups. Pig-based trade between the groups and pig-based feasts are a common theme with the other peoples of southeast Asia and Oceania. Most societies practice agriculture, supplemented by hunting and gathering.

New Guinea. Retrieved May, 2017 from

True or False

Instructions: Choose T (true) or F (false) for the following sentences.

The current population of the island of New Guinea is about 50,000.

Many believe human habitation on the island dates to as early as 60,000 BC.

The island is presently populated by almost a thousand different tribal groups.

There are 826 languages of Papua New Guinea.

Let’s find out how to use Non – Relative Clauses

Instructions: Read about Non - Defining Relative Clauses:

We use Non - Defining Relative Clauses to give additional information about someone or something. A Non - defining relative clause usually comes immediately after the noun it describes.

Look at this sentence:

  • New Guinea is a country, which is linguistically diverse, presently populated by almost a thousand different tribal groups.

“which is linguistically diverse” is a Non-Defining Relative Clause. It adds extra information to the sentence. If we take the clause out of the sentence, the sentence still has the same meaning.

Non-defining relative clauses can use most relative pronouns:

  • Things - Which
  • Time - When
  • People - Who, whom
  • Possession - Whose
  • Places - Where

But they CAN’T use “that” and the relative pronoun can never be omitted.


  • The current population of the island of New Guinea, where they speak the Papuan and Austronesian languages, is about eleven million.
  • The people of New Guinea, which is about eleven million, are mainly engaged in agriculture, hunting and gathering.
  • The speakers of the Papua languages, who live in New Guinea and the surrounding islands, belong to different indigenous groups.
  • The indigenous Papuas groups, whose origins date back 50,000 years B. C., are distinguished ethnically and linguistically from the Austronesians.


Ancient agriculture

Instructions: Fill in the gaps with the appropriate relative pronoun from the box.


1. The first inhabitants of New Guinea, arrived at least 50,000 years ago, travelled through the south-east Asian peninsula.

2. These first inhabitants, from the Papuan people are probably descended, adapted to the range of ecologies and, in time, developed one of the earliest known agricultures.

3. Remains of this agricultural system, are ancient irrigation systems in the highland, are being studied by archaeologists.

4. This work is still in its early stages, so there is still uncertainty as to precisely what crop was being grown, or when/where agriculture arose. Sugar cane, is the chief source of sugar, was cultivated for the first time in New Guinea around 6000 BC.

5. People known as the Dani or Ndani, form one of the most famous tribe in New Guinea, were the last society of its size to make first contact with the rest of the world.

done Check


Bailem Valley

Instructions: Combine the two sentences to make a non-defining relative clause.

Example: The island of New Guinea has a great biodiversity. It is very big.

The island of New Guinea, which is very big, has a great biodiversity.

1. In 1938, Richard Archbold discovered the Grand Valley. He was a zoologist and philanthropist. .

2. The tribesmen headdresses are made with exotic bird's feathers. The tribesmen headdresses are colorful. .

3. Pig feasts are extremely important to celebrate. They are slaughtered. .

4. The Baliem Valley festival includes staging mock battles against neighboring tribes. It is held in the open fields. .

5. Women skirts are made of orchid fibers. They are decorated with straw. .

done Check


Biodiversity in New Guinea

Instructions: Drag and drop the correct non-defining relative clauses.

which is a mixture of many tropical rainforest specieswhich belongs to the vertebrate groupswhich has an immense biodiversity

1. New Guinea, ___________, contains between 5 and 10 percent of the total species on the planet.

2. The flora of New Guinea, ___________, has its origins in Asia.

3. The 282 species island's frogs, ___________, are poorly known and expected to double or even triple when all species have been documented.