1. The relative pronouns:

The relative pronouns are:
 

Subject  Object  Possessive
who whom, who whose
which which whose
that that  


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

We use relative pronouns to introduce relative clauses, which tell us more about people and things.

2. Relative clauses to postmodify a noun 

We use relative clauses to postmodify a noun - to make clear which person or thing we are talking about. In these clauses we can have the relative pronoun who, which, whose or that

  • as subject (see Clauses Sentences and Phrases)

Isn’t that the woman who lives across the road from you?
The police said the accident that happened last night was unavoidable
The newspaper reported that the tiger which killed its keeper has been put down.

WARNING:
The relative pronoun is the subject of the clause.
We do not repeat the subject:

*The woman who [she] lives across the road…
*The tiger which [it] killed its keeper …

  • as object of a clause (see Clauses, Sentences and Phrases)

Have you seen those people who we met on holiday?
You shouldn’t believe everything that you read in the newspaper.
The house that we rented in London was fully furnished.
The food was definitely the thing which I enjoyed most about our holiday.

- Sometimes we use whom instead of who when the relative pronoun is the object:

Have you seen those people whom we met on holiday?

- When the relative pronoun is object of its clause we sometimes leave it out:

Have you seen those people we met on holiday?
You shouldn’t believe everything you read in the newspaper.
The house we rented in London was fully furnished.
The food was definitely the thing I enjoyed most about our holiday.

WARNING:
The relative pronoun is the object of the clause.
We do not repeat the object:

Have you seen those people who we met [them] on holiday?
The house that we rented [it] in London was fully furnished.
The food was definitely the thing I enjoyed [it] most about our holiday.

  • as object of a preposition. When the relative pronoun is the object of a preposition we usually put the preposition after the verb.:

You were talking to a woman >>> Who was the woman who you were talking to?
My parents live in that house >>> That’s the house that my parents live in.
You were talking about a book. I haven’t read it. >>> I haven’t read the book which you were talking about.

- When the relative pronoun is the object of a preposition we usually leave it out:

Who was the woman you were talking to?
That’s the house my parents live in.

- Sometimes we use whom instead of who:

Who was that woman whom you were talking about.

- When we use whom, which or whose the preposition sometimes comes at the beginning of the clause:

I haven’t read the book about which you were talking.

- We can use the possessive form, whose, in a relative clause:

I always forget that woman’s name >>> That’s the woman whose name I always forget.
I met a man whose brother works in Moscow.

3. Times and places

We also use when with times and where with places to make it clear which time or place we are talking about:

England won the world cup in 1996. It was the year when we got married.
I remember my twentieth birthday. It was the day when the tsunami happened.
Do you remember the place where we caught the train?
Stratford-upon-Avon is the town where Shakespeare was born.

... but we can leave out the word when:

England won the world cup in 1996. It was the year we got married.
I remember my twentieth birthday. It was the day the tsunami happened.

4. Giving additional information

 We use who, whom, whose, and which (but not that) in relative clauses to tell us more about a person or thing.

  • as subject (see Clauses, Sentences and Phrases)

My uncle, who was born in Hong Kong, lived most of his life overseas.
I have just read Orwell’s 1984, which is one of the most frightening books ever written.

WARNING:
The relative pronoun is the subject of the clause.
We do not repeat the subject:

My uncle, who [he] was born in Hong Kong, lived most of his life overseas.
I have just read Orwell’s 1984, which [it] is one of the most frightening books ever written.

  • as object (see Clauses, Sentences and Phrases)

We saw the latest Harry Potter film, which we really enjoyed.
My favourite actor is Marlon Brando, who I saw in “On the Waterfront”.

- we can use whom instead of who as object:

My favourite actor was Marlon Brando, whom I saw in “On the Waterfront”.

WARNING:
The relative pronoun is the object of the clause.
We do not repeat the object:

We saw the latest Harry Potter film, which we really enjoyed [it].
My favourite actor is Marlon Brando, who I saw [him] in “On the Waterfront”.

  • as object of a clause :

He finally met Paul McCartney, whom he had always admired.
We are going back to Venice, which we first visited thirty years ago.

We can also use who as the object.

He finally met Paul McCartney, who he had always admired.

WARNING:
The relative pronoun is the object of the clause.
We do not repeat the object:

He finally met Paul McCartney, whom he had always admired [him].
We are going back to Venice, which we first visited [it] thirty years ago.

  • as object of a preposition:

He decided to telephone Mrs. Jackson, who he had read about in the newspaper.
That’s the programme which we listened to last night.

- We sometimes use whom instead of who:

He decided to telephone Mrs. Jackson, whom he had read about in the newspaper.

- The preposition sometimes comes in front of the relative pronoun whom or which:

He decided to telephone Mrs. Jackson, about whom he had read in the newspaper.
That’s the programme to which we listened last night.

5.  Quantifiers and numbers with relative pronouns

 We often use quantifiers and numbers with relative pronouns:

many of whom - most of whom - one of which - none of whom
some of which - lots of whom - two of which - etc.

We can use them as subject, object or object of a preposition.

She has three brothers, two of whom are in the army.
I read three books last week, one of which I really enjoyed.
There were some good programmes on the radio, none of which I listened to.

6. Using  "which" to give more information

We often use the relative pronoun which to say something about a clause:

He was usually late, which always annoyed his father.
We’ve missed our train, which means we may be late.

 

Rearrange the parts to make sentences.

Match the sentence halves.

Comments

This page is interesting to improve and practice grammar, I like it :)

Hi everyone!
Excellent webpage!
Very good material for learn relative clauses, and both games are perfect exercises for apply in our speaking and writing. ;)

good page

Hi There!
Just one nitpicky little comment regarding pt.4 on Giving extra information:
In your warning under the second point - using the relative pronouns as objects - you write:
"The relative pronoun is the object of the clause. We do not repeat the subject"
Surely you mean 'We do not repeat the object'.  Probably just a typo - correct me if I'm wrong.
Cheers
Lew

Hello Lew!
 
Thanks for pointing that out, and yes, it's a typo. I've corrected it now, but please let us know if you spot any more - we're working on improving our proofing, but we're always grateful for minor bug fixes.

Thanks again

Jeremy Bee
The LearnEnglish Team

Q 5/12
I said which annoys something is there you
Rule:
You put a relative clause immediately after the noun that it is describing (Collins Cobuild Grammar -3rd edition-8.83)
Accordingly what is wrong with the following :
Is there something which I said annoys you ?
or, Why the following is considered correct :
Is there something I said which annoys you ?
 

Hello ulnas gore,

These are complicated sentences because you’ve got two relative clauses in each sentence, and the problem is that you’ve missed out a relative pronoun which needs to be left in the sentence because it’s the subject of its clause.
The first sentence should be: ‘Is there something which I said which annoys you?’

The second sentence is fine because you can miss out the first relative pronoun: ‘Is there something (which) I said which annoys you?’

For more information on relative clauses try here.

I hope that clarifies it for you.

Best wishes,

Peter
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello sir 
I have read in a book that omission of relative pronoun is more marked in spoken English.can we follow it in writing or not ?Will it affect grammar rule?or not .
We use who, whom, whose, and which (but not that) in relative clauses to tell us more about a person or thing, but in two sentences
You shouldn’t believe everything that you read in the newspaper.
The house that we rented in London was fully furnished.
are we not giving additional information about them .Pleasr clear me 
Thank you

Hello missarshmah
 
The rules for when to miss out relative pronouns can seem complicated but it looks like you’re quite familiar with them. It’s not uncommon to miss out the relative pronoun in writing and the grammar rules for this are the same in writing and speaking: we can miss out the relative pronoun in defining relative clauses as long as the relative pronoun is the object of the clause. For more on relative clauses, including when to miss out the pronoun, you can look here.
 
The other type of relative clause is a non-defining relative clause, which just adds some extra information to the sentence. In these we can’t use ‘that’, as you say, and we can’t remove the relative pronoun. The examples you give are both defining relative clauses because the information makes it clear which person or thing we are talking about.

I hope that answers your question.
 
Best wishes,
 
Peter
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello sir,

Would you please explain more about the use of relative pronoun, such as 'whose' and 'whom' after preposition in the followings:

1. The leave of the white mulberry provide food for silkworms, from whose cocoons silk fabrics are woven.
2. The men to whom the woman is talking are angry

Is there any other relative pronoun we can use after preposition beside whom and whose?

Thanks in advance.

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