A relative pronoun is a pronoun that introduces an adjective clause. In English, the relative pronouns are:
A relative pronoun is used to start a description for a noun. (This discription is called an adjective clause or a relative clause.) The description comes after the noun to:
(1) identify it.
· The lady who made your dress is waiting outside.
(The noun is the lady. The relative pronoun is who. The adjective clause identifying the lady is shaded.)
· I saw the dog which ate the cake.
(The noun being identified is the dog.)
· We did not know the tune that had been playing..
(The noun being identified is the tune.)
(2) tell us more information about it.
· Mrs Miggins, who owns a pie shop, is waiting outside.
(The noun is Mrs Miggins. The adjective clause tells us some information about her.)
· I rode my bike, which now had two flat tyres, back home.
(The noun is my bike. The adjective clause tells us some information about it.)
Relative Pronouns (for People and Things)
Your choice of relative pronoun is determined by whether it refers to a person or a thing. Your choices are:
· Who and whom refer to people.
· Which refers to things.
· That and whose refer to people or things.
Note: Be aware that a fair proportion of your readers will not like you usingthat for people. It is good advice to avoid using that for people, especially in formal writing.
Relative Pronouns (in Different Cases)
Your choice of relative pronoun is not just determined by whether it refers to people or things. It is also determined by the role the relative pronoun plays in its clause. For example:
Prepositions with Which and Whom
When whom or which is the object of a preposition, you can start the adjective clause with the preposition (as opposed to the relative pronoun). For example:
· The council will meet Professor Dobbs, from whom they expect an apology.
· My greatest concern was the tide, against which we stood little chance.
It is not a mistake to leave the preposition at the end of the clause, but be aware that some of readers might think it looks a little informal, especially if the preposition also ends the sentence.
Therefore, in formal writing, try to avoid ending a sentence in a preposition. However, if doing so makes your sentence sound stilted, then either try to reword your sentence or just leave your preposition at the end.
What are relative pronouns?
A relative pronoun is a pronoun that introduces a relative clause within a complex sentence.
In the example:
Mike found the keys that he had lost.
that is a relative pronoun which introduces the relative clause that he had lost.
In English the relative pronouns are who, whom, which, whose, and that.
who - subject or object pronoun for people
They caught the lady who killed her baby.
I know the man who you met.
which - subject or object pronoun
I read the book which is on the table.
I visited the town which you told me about.
which - referring to a whole sentence
They were unsuccessful which is disappointing.
whom - used for object pronoun for people, especially in non-restrictive relative clauses (in restrictive relative clauses use who)
The boy whom you told me about got the best grades in mathematics.
that - subject or object pronoun for people, animals and things in restrictive relative clauses (who or whichare also possible)
I like the vase that is over there.