Relative Clauses and Relative Pronouns
Relative Pronouns are used to introduce Relative Clauses. Relative clauses are used to say which person or thing we are talking about, or give extra information
Relative Pronouns (who, which, that, where, whom, whose, why, what, when) are used to introduce Relative Clauses. Relative clauses are used to say which person or thing we are talking about, or give extra information. Relative Clauses can be defining or non-defining.
Defining Relative Clauses
A defining relative clause identifies the noun to which the relative pronoun refers. It explains 'which person..?' or 'which thing?' Defining clauses are not separated from the rest of of the sentence by commas.
The woman who won the lottery this week lives in Milano.
The computer that I used to write this is six years old.
Non-Defining Relative Clauses
A non-defining relative clause gives extra information about a noun that has already been identified. A non-defining clause is separated from the rest of the sentence with commas.
My mother, who lives in France, is coming to visit me next week.
My computer, which was originally bought to do graphics work, is very fast.
Subject Relative Pronouns
When the relative pronoun serves as the subject, we use:
|Animals / Things
|Who / That
|That / Which (UK)
That or Which?
'That' is normally used instead of 'which' after superlatives and after the following words; All, Much, None, Little, Few, Only, Nothing, Everything, Something, Anything
I've done everything that is possible to help him.
This is the best digital camera that you can buy at the moment.
Mr Smith, who lives in Paris, has been a writer for 20 years.
Their company, which is the biggest in England, has won an award for innovation.
Object Relative Pronouns
When the relative pronoun serves as the object, we use:
|Animals / Things
|Who / That / No pronoun
|Which / That / No pronoun
|Who / Whom
Prepositions go at the end of the relative clause. In formal language, Whom is used instead of Who.
The sales representative who/that I contacted came to my office today.
The television that/which I bought was made in Japan.
The waiter who/that I gave the money to is over there.
The company which/that I work for has an office in Singapore.
In spoken English the object relative pronoun in defining clauses is often omitted. However, in non-defining clauses, we can't use 'that' and we can't omit the object pronoun. Prepositions come before 'whom' but at the end of a clause starting with 'who' or 'which'.
The Mayor, who/whom we heard on the radio, is visiting us tomorrow.
My motorbike, which I paid £1000 for, is still working perfectly.
'Whose' is a possessive relative pronoun. Whose relates to people but can also be used for animals and things. It can be used in defining and non-defining clauses.
He is the man whose daughter got married yesterday.
Peter, whose wife won the lottery, has just resigned from his job.
The students, whose exam grades were excellent, are having a celebratory party tonight.