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!
I have two questions, and I'm sorry if they've been already asked before.
1. Talking about whom and which accompained by a preposition, in this case "with", you wrote the following example:
"We bought a chainsaw, with which we cut up all the wood."
but when you wrote the same example putting "with" at the end of the clause or using the relative pronoun "that" instead of "which", you changed the placement of "up":
"We bought a chainsaw, which we cut all the wood up with."
and
"We bought a chainsaw that we cut all the wood up with."
Can you explain me why, please?
2. In the explanation above, it's made clear that in modern english "whom" has been mostly replaced by "who".
In the clause "They had four children, all of ............... went to university.", "whom" is considered the right answer. I answered correctly, but just because it "sounded better". Is "who or that" considered wrong because it includes "that"? If there was a "who" option, would that be considered right? "They had four children, all of who went to university." sounds quite weird to me.
Thank you for dedicating me your time and your knowledge and for your hard work. I've found this site incredibly useful. Greetings!

Hello Giada,

In 1, the issue is that 'cut up' is separable phrasal verb, i.e. a phrasal verb whose particle can be used just after the main verb or later in the phrase. You can read more about this and phrasal verbs in general on our phrasal verbs and two- and three-part verbs pages.

In 2, only 'whom' is correct because after prepositions (in this case, the preposition 'of'), only 'whom' is correct, not 'that' or 'who'.

We're glad you find LearnEnglish useful!

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Thank you for your kind reply, Kirk! I hope you don't mind to give me some more explanation.
Does this rule apply to all prepositions? Can I use "who" after the preposition "from"?
F.ex., which is the most correct between the following sentences?
"I had an uncle in Germany, from who I inherited a bit of money" or "I had an uncle in Germany, from whom I inherited a bit of money"?

Hello Giada,

You're welcome! Yes, this rule applies to all prepositions, so the second of your sentences about your German uncle is the correct one.

I feel I should mention that preposition + 'whom' isn't used so much nowadays, at least in general spoken or written English, as it sounds a bit stiff (too formal) for most contexts. Instead, the preposition is moved to the end of the phrase, e.g. 'I had an uncle in Germany who I inherited a bit of money from'. Note that, as in this case, when the preposition is not immediately before the relative pronoun, 'who' is used instead of 'whom'. But when the preposition is immediately before it, you must use 'whom'.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Oh, I see! Now I perfectly get it. Thank you again for your invaluable assistance, Kirk!
All the best to you too,
Giada

Please suggest me on this question

'an' is ___ article.

Which article should I use here?

Sir,
I have studied that page. But I want help from you on this blank
'an' is ____ article. (an, the)
Please give me answer...

Hello Keeplearning_english,

I'm sorry, I misunderstood your question. Whether 'a' or 'the' is used really depends on the context, and here there is no context. Most of the time, 'an' could be the correct answer here, as it may be the first time articles are mentioned. On the other hand, if a specific use of articles has already been mentioned, then 'the' could be the better choice.

I'm sorry that's not a firm answer, but as is often the case with language, the context is vitally important.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Keeplearning_english,

I'm sorry, I misunderstood your question. Whether 'a' or 'the' is used really depends on the context, and here there is no context. Most of the time, 'an' could be the correct answer here, as it may be the first time articles are mentioned. On the other hand, if a specific use of articles has already been mentioned, then 'the' could be the better choice.

I'm sorry that's not a firm answer, but as is often the case with language, the context is vitally important.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

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