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

"an eight-year-old boy who attempted to rob a sweet shop"

hi peter

i need clarify about this question. why you using "a sweet shop" instead of " at sweet shop" my question is why don't use "at". if it will use "at" correct or not correct.

thanks

Hello again taj25,

In the sentence you ask about, 'a sweet shop' is the direct object of the verb 'rob'. It would not be correct to use 'at' here, as that would be a prepositional phrase.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Dear Sir,

Kindly let me know about the uses of "What" as a relative pronoun.

Hello amol,

I'm afraid 'what' is not used as a relative pronoun. Are you perhaps asking about cleft sentences? The Cambridge Dictionary has a good explanation of this - see their Word order: structures page, specifically the Wh-cleft sentences section.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

She wrote a best-selling book, the name of ............... I've completely forgotten. for tis test question the answer stated as 'which' (but not 'that'). But ı think it is talking about the book. Why not the answer is 'which or that' since the course explanation at the top is "We use who and whom for people, and which for things.
Or we can use that for people or things."

Hello bguldibi,

There are three reasons why 'that' is not possible here.

First of all, we use 'that' as an alternative to 'who' and 'which' in defining relative clauses, not non-defining relative clauses. This sentence is an example of a non-defining relative clause.

Second, we cannot replace 'whose' with 'that', and 'of which' is an alternative way to say 'whose':

She wrote a best-selling book, whose name I've completely forgotten.

Third, we do not use 'that' when the relative pronoun is part of a phrase with a preposition such as 'of which', 'to which', 'from whom', 'for whom' etc.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Dear Sir
Please let me know whether this sentence is correct.
A boy helped me to carry bag. He is very poor.
The boy who helped me to carry my bag is very poor.
My question is : one must change the indefinite article ' A' to 'THE'
A boy should change to The boy.
Regards
Andrew international

Hello Andrew international,

The article changes as you say because the relative clause defines which boy is being discussed. However, the sentence would still not be correct as you need a possessive adjective before 'bag': ...to carry my bag...

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Mr. kirk, who is a teacher, is my brother.

what is WHO
relative pronoun or interrogative pronoun

the word WHO is used for a noun ' Kirk'

please help

Hello pyramid,

In that sentence (about me!), 'who' is a relative pronoun. If the sentence were a question, it would be asking for some kind of information. This sentence states a fact; it doesn't pose any question.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

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