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,

(Bob is speaking) ''... and I am completely powerless to the whims of the new building owner.'' (Bob is the building owner.)

(and then is interrupted by John) ''Which is you.''

Why is there ''Which'' used it refers to things and animals, but not people? Shouldn't it be who?

Thank you in advance.

Hello JamlMakav,

It's great that you noticed this. In this case, 'which' isn't so much a relative pronoun as a kind of connecting word. Both 'who' and 'which' are sometimes used in this way to connect ideas or clauses.

A test you can use to determine if this is appropriate is to see if you can replace 'which' with 'and this'. If it makes sense, as in the example you ask about ('And this is you' has the same meaning), then 'which' is being used as a connector.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello. We can also use 'Where' 'When' and 'Why' right? How to use 'why'? Please help me. Huhu Lol
Thank you.

Hello Saaandra,

You can find a good summary of when these are used, with examples to illustrate, on this page. You can also read more about relative clauses herehere and here.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hi,
Why ‘who’ is used instead of ‘that’ in the following sentence?
Can I omit the comma before their relative pronoun ‘who’?

Americans eat 50% more protein and fat than Japanese, who get more of their calories from fruit and vegetables.

Many thanks

Hello libero,

The relative clause here (starting with 'who' and continuing to the end of the sentence) is a non-defining relative clause, which means that it provides extra information but does not define the noun which it describes. We only use 'that' in defining relative clauses.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hi, I'm slightly confused by the start of the article that states "The relative pronouns are: (who, whom, whose, which & that)"

I'm planning a Primary School lesson on relative pronouns and, as I understand the National Curriculum, where and when can also be RPs, as in "I turned the TV off when the programme had finished" or "I looked at the mark on the floor where my daughter had scribbled her name".

Is that right? I may have got the wrong end of the stick...

Hello Biffo,

The five pronouns listed here are the ones found in most lists of relative pronouns, but you're right in thinking that 'where', 'when' and 'why' can introduce relative clauses. You might want to take a look at another grammar reference, for example the Cambridge Dictionary's, to compare how they are presented there.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello, I have just done an exercise putting 2 sentences together using relative pronouns, but this example has foxed me.
This is my football ground. My team plays here.
My answer was This is my football ground whose team plays here.
But is doesn't made sense, so what relative pronoun should it be? Thanks.

Hello fishing2,

I would use the relative pronoun 'where':

This is the football ground where my team plays.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

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