The relative pronouns are:

 

Subject Object Possessive
who who(m) whose
which which whose
that that  

 


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

We use relative pronouns:

after a noun, to make it clear which person or thing we are talking about:

the house that Jack built
the woman who discovered radium
an eight-year-old boy who attempted to rob a sweet shop

to tell us more about a person or thing:

My mother, who was born overseas, has always been a great traveller.
Lord Thompson, who is 76, has just retired.
We had fish and chips, which is my favourite meal.

But we do not use that as a subject in this kind of relative clause.

We use whose as the possessive form of who:

This is George, whose brother went to school with me.

We sometimes use whom as the object of a verb or preposition:

This is George, whom you met at our house last year.
This is George’s brother, with whom I went to school.

But nowadays we normally use who:

This is George, who you met at our house last year.
This is George’s brother, who I went to school with.

When whom or which have a preposition the preposition can come at the beginning of the clause...

I had an uncle in Germany, from who[m] I inherited a bit of money.
We bought a chainsaw, with which we cut up all the wood.

or at the end of the clause:

I had an uncle in Germany who[m] I inherited a bit of money from.
We bought a chainsaw, which we cut all the wood up with.

We can use that at the beginning of the clause:

I had an uncle in Germany that I inherited a bit of money from.
We bought a chainsaw that we cut all the wood up with.

Exercise

Section: 

Comments

hello,
learn english team
when noun Preposition noun comes before a relative pronoun.
1: It is a collection of words which makes/make complete sense.
here antecedent will be collection or words and why?

Hello Tapan gahlot,

The reference here is actually extrinsic. This means that the pronoun 'it' refers to something outside the sentence. This could be something in the real world (the speaker is looking at a text) or something in a previous sentence. Not every pronoun refers to something within the sentence.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Thanks Peter
Appreciate your quick response.
But confused about the verb here, should I use make or makes ? And please clarify why
Thanks in advance Peter.

Hello Tapan gahlot,

Both are possible here. If you say 'makes' then you are talking about the collection making sense. If you say 'make' then you are saying that the words which make up the collection all make sense.

 


Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

 

Hi English Team,
This question is related to my initial question.
How could someone identify what (subject) performs the action (verb) in a sentence? In this case, the noun/pronoun a verb is associated with.
Also, can a verb refer to another verb as its cause (subject) in a sentence? And, can a sentence have more than one subject?
Thank you.

Hello CalmWhale,

You can identify the subject through agreement (singular, plural) and by form in the case of pronouns (subject vs object forms). Word order is also important in English - the subject generally precedes the verb and the object follows the verb in active sentences. Most important is the context, which should help to make the meaning clear. Although it is possible to construct grammatically correct sentences with ambiguous subjects and/or objects, speakers avoid this for obvious reasons.

It is possible for infinitives to act as subject complements after 'be':

What is important is to learn from your experiences.

Usually when we want to use a verb as the subject we make a gerund - a noun made from a verb.

A verb can have several subjects, just as one subject can have several verbs:

Paul, John, Sue and Terry went to the shop.

The subjects here are 'Paul, John, Sue and Terry'.

Paul went to the shop and bought a paper.

'Paul' is the subject; 'went' and 'bought' are the verbs.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hi English Grammar Team

(1) In the sentence - He tore up the photograph, which upset me - what upsets the speaker (What is "which" referring to?), is it the action (tore), or the "photograph" (object). Logically, I think it is the action (tore) that upsets the speaker.

(2) Consider this sentence - He tore up the photograph which/that upsets me - what upsets the speaker in this case? I think the verb (upsets) is performed by the object/subject (photograph), so the speaker is being upset by the photograph, not the action (tore).

If I'm correct in question (2), is it because of the verb (upsets, instead of upset) and because there is no comma ( , ) separating the object (photograph) from the verb (upsets)?

Else, why are they (which, that) [not] referring to "photograph" instead of "tore"?

Thank you.

Hello CalmWhale,

In your first sentence the relative clause describes the whole of the main clause. In other words, the fact that the person ripped up the photograph upsets the speaker. It is not specified why it is upsetting, as the whole clause is being referred to. Non-defining relative clauses (note the comma) can refer to the whole of the preceding clause in this way.

In your second sentence the relative clause describes the photograph - the photograph which has been ripped up is the upsetting photograph, not some other one. Here the relative clause is a defining relative clause, which is why there is no comma.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello,
Someone can help me? I couldn't understand when to use "who" and "whom".
Thanks!

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