Contact Clause

Contact Clause

The intended sentence is きのう かった ほんは おもしろかったです  – The book I bought yesterday was interesting. So the answer is d. ほん.

This sentence is a combination of 2 sentences.

わたしは きのう ほんを かいました。I bought a book yesterday.

その ほんは おもしろかったです。 The book was interesting.

In order to combine 2 sentences by making one into a contact clause, you need to follow these steps:

  1. Decide which sentence to keep as the main sentence and which to convert into the contact clause.
    In this pair, you won’t know if the book is interesting until you read it, so you need to keep the second sentence “The book was interesting” as the main sentence and the first one “I bought a book yesterday” to convert into a contact clause.
  2. Convert the secondary sentence into the plain form but you need to remember:
    1. [change は to が] If the doer of the action of the verb (= the subject) in the secondary sentence is marked with the topic marker は, this は has to be changed to the subject marker が (or の) as no phrase in the contact clause can be the topic of the sentence any more.
    2. [skip the noun] You need to skip the noun which appears in both sentence together with its particle (in this example, ほんを, the book)
      ⇒ わたしが きのう ほんを かった
  3. Place the contact clause in front of the same noun you have skipped above.
    わたしが きのう かった (その)ほんは おもしろかったです。(The (very) book I bought yesterday was interesting.)
    If the noun in the main clause has この/その/あの in front of it like this example, you need to work out whether the noun is one and only thing which you can pin-point. If so, you place the contact clause before この/その/あの (recommended, as placing the contact clause after この/その/あの can alter the meaning). Other wise, you can ignore この/その/あの.
    ⇒ わたしが きのう かった ほんは おもしろかったです。(The book I bought yesterday was interesting.)
  4. Tidy up.  You can remove any obvious parts which can be left out.
    きのう かった ほんは おもしろかったです。

Let’s have a look at how the contact clause ends depending on the words we use:


non-pastほんを よむ ひとthe person/people who reads/read books
pastほんを よんだ ひとthe person/people who read the book
negativeほんを よまない ひとthe person/people who doesn’t/don’t read books
negative pastほんを よまなかった ひとthe person/people who didn’t read the book


non-pastかみが ながい ひとthe person/people who has/have long hair
pastかみが ながかった ひとthe person/people who had long hair
negativeかみが ながくない ひとthe person/people who doesn’t/don’t have long hair
negative pastかみが ながくなかった ひとthe person/people who didn’t have long hair


non-pastすしが すきな* ひとthe person/people who likes/like sushi
pastすしが すきだった ひとthe person/people who liked sushi
negativeすしが すきじゃない ひとthe person/people who doesn’t/don’t like sushi
negative pastすしが すきじゃなかった ひとthe person/people who didn’t like sushi
*When the clause is in the non-past, the sentence ending だ changes to な


non-pastこどもが だいがくせいの* ひとthe person/people whose child is a university student
pastこどもが だいがくせいだった ひとthe person/people whose child was a university student
negativeこどもが だいがくせいじゃない ひとthe person/people whose child is not a university student
negative pastこどもが だいがくせいじゃなかった ひとthe person/people whose child was not a university student
*When the clause is in the non-past, the sentence ending だ changes to の

As stated above, when you use a non-past clause which ends in a なadjective or noun, you need to change the ending だ to な or の respectively. Also, the subject marker が within a contact clause is often replaced with の without causing any meaning change. (However, some が cannot be replaced with の, so I recommend you keep using が.)

Now, each of these phrases (a noun with a contact clause) can become a part of a sentence, so:

ほんを よむ ひとは ことばを たくさん しっています。
People who read books know lots of words.

かみが ながくない ひとの とくちょうは シャワーが みじかいこと です。
The characteristics of the people who don’t have long hair is they have a short shower.

すしが すきだった ひとに しつもんしました。
I asked a question to those people who liked sushi.

こどもが だいがくせいじゃなかった ひとのほうが こどもが だいがくせいの ひとより おおいです。
There are more people whose child was not a university student than those who have a child who is a university student.

If you are finding contact clauses difficult, I have compiled a series of questions as “Basic Contact Clause Module” as part of my “Basic Grammar Exercise Modules” to help you practise on this sentence pattern. Reading about the grammar points makes you understand the pattern but understanding the pattern and being able to use it are two different things. You need to practise using the pattern upon understanding it.

The exercise includes questions to rewrite sentences using a contact clause, to practise identifying a contact clause and to place words in the correct order, just like you tried in this question. These modules are offered as a subscription and you can attempt questions as many times as you like during your subscription period. Questions are pulled out of my data base each time you attempt it, so you are likely to come across different questions if you are attempting it multiple times. Your answer will be marked straight away and the correct answer and some explanation will be displayed immediately so that you don’t have to wait for the feedback. If you are interested, please read more here. Other topics available for subscription are listed below.

EasyJapaneseE’s Basic Grammar Exercise Modules

Following short modules are available for subscription! Click the name of a module for more information.

2 thoughts on “Contact Clause

  1. Reply
    Thorsten Marte
    8 November 2022 at 1:31 pm


    1. Reply
      8 November 2022 at 5:25 pm


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