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 Peter

"My father likes Elliot's essays who was a masterpiece critic and reputed grammarian of English."

Is the sentence correct?

Thanks

Hello Akash,

No, I'm afraid it is not. The antecedent of 'who' cannot be 'essays', which is what the grammar of the sentence indicates. You could perhaps say something like 'My father likes Elliot's essays because he was a master critic and reputed grammarian'.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

HI)) Can we say "The Mona Lisa which painted by the Leonardo Da Vinci is in Louvre" ?

Hello Lutfullo,

That sentence is not quite correct. There are two ways to say this:

The Mona Lisa, which was painted by Leonardo Da Vinci, is in Louvre.

The Mona Lisa, painted by Leonardo Da Vinci, is in Louvre.

You need to include the commas.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Is the usage of "who" and "whom" correct in these sentences. "She's the one who played the piano at the event." And "George, who is a funny man, died yesterday." This is Clara, whom I went to school with." "They are the ones who won the championship."

Hello Timmosky,

Yes, all of them are correct, though please note that 'whom' is quite uncommon in speaking nowadays. Most of the time, most people would use 'who' in your third sentence instead of 'whom'.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

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

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