relative clauses

 

1. The relative pronouns:

The relative pronouns are:
 

Subject  Object  Possessive
who whom, who whose
which which whose
that that  


We use who and whom for people, and which for things.
We use that for people or things.

We use relative pronouns to introduce relative clauses, which tell us more about people and things.

2. Relative clauses to postmodify a noun 

We use relative clauses to postmodify a noun - to make clear which person or thing we are talking about. In these clauses we can have the relative pronoun who, which, whose or that

  • as subject (see Clauses Sentences and Phrases)

Isn’t that the woman who lives across the road from you?
The police said the accident that happened last night was unavoidable
The newspaper reported that the tiger which killed its keeper has been put down.

WARNING:
The relative pronoun is the subject of the clause.
We do not repeat the subject:

*The woman who [she] lives across the road…
*The tiger which [it] killed its keeper …

  • as object of a clause (see Clauses, Sentences and Phrases)

Have you seen those people who we met on holiday?
You shouldn’t believe everything that you read in the newspaper.
The house that we rented in London was fully furnished.
The food was definitely the thing which I enjoyed most about our holiday.

- Sometimes we use whom instead of who when the relative pronoun is the object:

Have you seen those people whom we met on holiday?

- When the relative pronoun is object of its clause we sometimes leave it out:

Have you seen those people we met on holiday?
You shouldn’t believe everything you read in the newspaper.
The house we rented in London was fully furnished.
The food was definitely the thing I enjoyed most about our holiday.

WARNING:
The relative pronoun is the object of the clause.
We do not repeat the object:

Have you seen those people who we met [them] on holiday?
The house that we rented [it] in London was fully furnished.
The food was definitely the thing I enjoyed [it] most about our holiday.

  • as object of a preposition. When the relative pronoun is the object of a preposition we usually put the preposition after the verb.:

You were talking to a woman >>> Who was the woman who you were talking to?
My parents live in that house >>> That’s the house that my parents live in.
You were talking about a book. I haven’t read it. >>> I haven’t read the book which you were talking about.

- When the relative pronoun is the object of a preposition we usually leave it out:

Who was the woman you were talking to?
That’s the house my parents live in.

- Sometimes we use whom instead of who:

Who was that woman whom you were talking about.

- When we use whom or which the preposition sometimes comes at the beginning of the clause:

I haven’t read the book about which you were talking.

- We can use the possessive form, whose, in a relative clause:

I always forget that woman’s name >>> That’s the woman whose name I always forget.
I met a man whose brother works in Moscow.

3. Times and places

We also use when with times and where with places to make it clear which time or place we are talking about:

England won the world cup in 1996. It was the year when we got married.
I remember my twentieth birthday. It was the day when the tsunami happened.
Do you remember the place where we caught the train?
Stratford-upon-Avon is the town where Shakespeare was born.

... but we can leave out the word when:

England won the world cup in 1996. It was the year we got married.
I remember my twentieth birthday. It was the day the tsunami happened.

4. Giving additional information

 We use who, whom, whose, and which (but not that) in relative clauses to tell us more about a person or thing.

  • as subject (see Clauses, Sentences and Phrases)

My uncle, who was born in Hong Kong, lived most of his life overseas.
I have just read Orwell’s 1984, which is one of the most frightening books ever written.

WARNING:
The relative pronoun is the subject of the clause.
We do not repeat the subject:

My uncle, who [he] was born in Hong Kong, lived most of his life overseas.
I have just read Orwell’s 1984, which [it] is one of the most frightening books ever written.

  • as object (see Clauses, Sentences and Phrases)

We saw the latest Harry Potter film, which we really enjoyed.
My favourite actor is Marlon Brando, who I saw in “On the Waterfront”.

- we can use whom instead of who as object:

My favourite actor was Marlon Brando, whom I saw in “On the Waterfront”.

WARNING:
The relative pronoun is the object of the clause.
We do not repeat the object:

We saw the latest Harry Potter film, which we really enjoyed [it].
My favourite actor is Marlon Brando, who I saw [him] in “On the Waterfront”.

  • as object of a clause :

He finally met Paul McCartney, whom he had always admired.
We are going back to Venice, which we first visited thirty years ago.

We can also use who as the object.

He finally met Paul McCartney, who he had always admired.

WARNING:
The relative pronoun is the object of the clause.
We do not repeat the object:

He finally met Paul McCartney, whom he had always admired [him].
We are going back to Venice, which we first visited [it] thirty years ago.

  • as object of a preposition:

He decided to telephone Mrs. Jackson, who he had read about in the newspaper.
That’s the programme which we listened to last night.

- We sometimes use whom instead of who:

He decided to telephone Mrs. Jackson, whom he had read about in the newspaper.

- The preposition sometimes comes in front of the relative pronoun whom or which:

He decided to telephone Mrs. Jackson, about whom he had read in the newspaper.
That’s the programme to which we listened last night.

5.  Quantifiers and numbers with relative pronouns

 We often use quantifiers and numbers with relative pronouns:

many of whom - most of whom - one of which - none of whom
some of which - lots of whom - two of which - etc.

We can use them as subject, object or object of a preposition.

She has three brothers two of whom are in the army.
I read three books last week, one of which I really enjoyed.
There were some good programmes on the radio, none of which I listened to.

6. Using  "which" to give more information

We often use the relative pronoun which to say something about a clause:

He was usually late, which always annoyed his father.
We’ve missed our train, which means we may be late.

 

Rearrange the parts to make sentences.

Match the sentence halves.

Comments

Hello,

I am wondering when can't we put the preposition in from of the relative pronoun.

Do the sentence "That's the book for which he's been looking ", "The girl after whom she is looking is my daughter" sound natural?

Thank you very much!
.

Hello again,
that and which may seem to be interchangeable, but they are not .their use depends on whether a relative clause is restrictive or nonrestrictive . please Mr.Kirk can you explain that for all members on this website .
Best Regards .

Hello Rami Reath Diab,

Do you mean that you'd like an explanation of restrictive and non-restrictive clauses? Non-restrictive clauses are under explained in part 4 above, and other clauses would fall into the restrictive type, which is explained in the other parts, especially part 2.

If you have a more specific question, please let us know and we'll be happy to help you with it.

Best wishes,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

I have always (or at least since I started being interested in grammar) believed that 'that' and 'which' are not interchangeable. For me, 'that' is a defining relative pronoun, whereas 'which' is non-defining. According to this page, 'which' can be used as both defining and non-defining, e.g "The newspaper reported that the tiger which killed its keeper has been put down."
Am I right to think this is wrong, or has my grammar life been a big lie?

Hello HammyBee,

I wouldn't say that your grammar life has been a big lie, as your writing is very clear and has a very nice style, but I'm afraid it's true that which is used in both types of relative clauses. Sometimes traditional grammars make statements that don't really reflect the way language is used by most people. In any case, your clear ideas about the subject will surely serve to help you remember this rectification.

Best wishes,

Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

 

I would like know is there is a rule on pronoun order in a sentence for all three person.
eg : Paul and you and I get increment. Is it correct. Where can I find a text reference for the pronoun order rule.

Jello Jey_007,

There is no fixed order for pronouns and in large part it is up to the speaker.  In the example you provide all of the following are perfectly acceptable:

Paul and you and I... 

You and I and Paul... 

Me and you and Paul...

One interesting point is that we use 'me' when the first person pronoun is the first pronoun mentioned in the list ('Me and Paul love cycling'), but 'I' when it is the second or later ('Paul and I love cycling').

I hope that helps to clarify it for you.

Best wishes,

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Every one!
I want to know this sentence is correct or wrong.
 
'All you have to do is just click the send button.'
 
In this sentence we can see 'is' .But after that there is a infinitive 'click'.I want to know can we use infinitive after 'is'?
Thank you.

Hello bimsara,

This is an example of a particular type of sentence called a cleft sentence.  Cleft sentences are used to emphasise certain information in the sentence.  For example:

I want a meeting.

What I want is a meeting. [emphasising 'a meeting']

There are many different kinds of cleft sentence.  The kind you have in your example (a cleft sentence with a what-clause plus the verb do) is used when we want to emphasise the whole sentence rather than just a part of it, and we can replace 'what' with 'all' to add further emphasis:

You just have to click the send button.

What you have to do is just click the send button. [emphasising the whole sentence]

All you have to do is just click the send button.

It is possible to form this sentence with the bare infinite ('just send') or the infinitive with to ('to just send').

I hope that helps to answer your question.

Best wishes,

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello everyone!
 
I found those sentences from this website.I want to know that can we use those formats which have in this page to these sentences.
 

  1. I can smell something burning
  2. The boy talking to angela is her younger brother

I like to make these sentences like this,
 

  1. I can smell something which is burning
  2. The boy who is talking to angela is her younger brother

Thank you for your help.

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