That’s the last time I leave you in charge.

In the sentence, is "I leave you in charge" an adjective clause (relative clause) modifying "the last time"?

  • I agree with you. :)
    – Maulik V
    Sep 15 '14 at 5:02


In general, a relative clause is used to add extra information to a sentence. This can be done with a defining relative clause, which adds information specifying which item out of a possible set, or a non-defining relative clause, which just provides optional extra details.

That's the shirt [that I bought in Jamaica]. --the bracketed phrase is a defining relative clause; without it, "that's the shirt" doesn't identify which shirt it is.

My wife [, who is turning 40 this week,] is looking into plastic surgery. --the bracketed phrase is non-defining; I only have 1 wife, the phrase merely provides some additional detail that is relevant to the topic.

In general, a defining relative clause may use a "zero relative pronoun", that is, you can leave the pronoun off completely (as long as the clause does not start with a verb):

That's the shirt that I bought in Jamaica. ok
That's the shirt I bought in Jamaica. ok
He's the one that took my shirt. ok
He's the one took my shirt. wrong

In the sentence you gave, the phrase "I leave you in charge" is a defining relative clause specifying which "last time" we are referring to, and it does not start with a verb, so both of the following are correct:

That's the last time that I leave you in charge.
That's the last time I leave you in charge.



The tough part about English is the fact that there's a lot of creative freedom that we're given to work with. There is never a definitive answer for a lot of the questions posted about specifics in English but i can give you my opinion which might be of some help.

I feel "I leave you in charge" is not a relative clause because there is an arguable lack of a definitive relative adverb or relative pronoun. Yes, "the last time" might have a vague indication of the scenario being discussed being the present one but it is inferred. Therefore the answer to your question from my research and experience in the language is "No, it is not a definitive relative clause due to a lack of an explicit relative adverb/pronoun".

Hope it helps

References: [1] [2] [3]

  • books.google.com/…
    – user230
    Oct 9 '14 at 12:10
  • That's the beauty of English, so much creative freedom that a hundred realities can co-exist. I do not appreciate your down vote as I did state that this is based on my opinion.
    – Tushar
    Oct 9 '14 at 12:11
  • But there is ample evidence that relative clauses need not start with a relative pronoun or adverb, so saying "it's not a relative clause because it doesn't have a relative pronoun or adverb" seems wrong.
    – Hellion
    Oct 9 '14 at 17:17
  • My perspective is entirely based on the implicit and somewhat hard to confirm nature of this "relative pronoun, i completely agree with you but i still do feel that it is important to have both perspectives or all perspectives laid out. I may receive critiquing or negative points for it but im more than happy being a part of the discussion leading to a better conclusion.
    – Tushar
    Oct 9 '14 at 17:38

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