English Relative Pronouns
The nine relative pronouns that introduce adjective or relative clauses in English are:
• • • • • • • • •
who whom that which Ø (null relative pronoun) whose when where why
Syntactic functions are grammatical functions that relate to other grammatical functions within the syntax, or word order, of a sentence. For example, the grammatical function of object complement is directly related to the syntactic functions of direct object and predicate. The five syntactic functions that relative pronouns can perform in English grammar are:
1. 2. 3. 4. 5.
Subject Direct object Prepositional complement Possessive determiner Adverbial
The following sections discuss five functions of relative pronouns and include examples to illustrate use.
Relative pronouns first function as the subject of adjective clauses. A subject is a word, phrase, or clause that performs the action of or acts upon the verb functioning as the predicate. Take for example the following two sentences:
The book belongs to me. The book is on the table.
These two sentences can combine into a single sentence with the help of a relative pronoun. First, the relative pronoun that replaces the subject the book in the second sentence to form the adjective clause that is on the table. Then, the adjective clauses attaches to the noun book in the first sentence to form the sentence The book that is on the table belongs to me. The relative pronoun that still refers to the noun the book making that the subject of the adjective clause. The three relative pronouns that can function as the subject of an adjective clause are that, who, and which. Other examples of relative pronouns functioning as subjects include:
• • • •
Harry Potter is the boy who lived. The department has experienced problems which have delayed production. The man, who is also my uncle, is a world-renowned poet. The teacher punished the students that cheated on the test.
is only minor. First. which. the well-known pianist whom everybody admires. Take for example the following two sentences:
The cupcake was poisoned. I could not understand what they wanted to know. A direct object is a word. lo cual a quien. Jorge Essen. el conocido pianista a quien todos admiran. I personally know that author whose books give so much pleasure. los cuales. los que. Your son must like the little girl Ø he kicked. la que. cuyo. a quienes de quien. That was the subject which I was talking about. cuya. Las lecciones que más le gustaban eran aquellas que (las que) aprendía de otros. cuyos. Other examples of relative pronouns functioning as direct objects include:
• • • •
The person whom the committee nominated for the prize already won last year. Then. The wicked queen ate the cupcake. This is exactly what I wanted to find out. (Conozco personalmente a ese autor cuyos libros me brindan tanto placer. No pude entender lo que ellos querían saber. Ese era el tema sobre el cual yo estaba hablando. Finally. las cuales. phrase. The baby whom her husband watches is their niece. will play here soon. The five relative pronouns that can function as the direct object of an adjective clause are that. the adjective clause attaches to the noun cupcake in the first sentence to form the sentence The cupcake that the wicked queen ate was poisoned. cuyas lo que.
that who which whom whose what el que. the relative pronoun that is fronted to the beginning of the clause to form the adjective clause that the wicked queen ate. which Espen discovered. lo que quien. No sé quien estuvo aquí.Direct Object
Relative pronouns secondly function as the direct object of adjective clauses.
. la cual. the relative pronoun that replaces the direct object the cupcake in the second sentence to form the clause the wicked queen ate that. actuará aquí pronto. de quienes. or clause that that follows and receives the action of a transitive verb. whom. The lessons which she liked better were those which she learned from others. Jorge Essen. quienes el cual. las que. The glitch.
These two sentences can likewise combine into a single sentence with the help of a relative pronoun. The relative pronoun that still refers to the noun the cupcake making that the direct object of the adjective clause. lo cual
EJEMPLOS CON PRONOMBRES RELATIVOS
I don't know who was here. Ø and informally who.
Ask someone for some information (Open ended) Ask Randy what he is doing. Mi hermano fue el hombre que (quien) estuvo aquí hace unos momentos.Exactamente esto es lo que quería descubrir. Could you tell Bob to call me? Tell him not to do that. Ask someone to do something Please ask Teresa to give me a call. Could you ask Russell to be here at five? Ask someone for some information (Yes or No) Ask Paula if she is coming to the party. Hopkins (that) I will be late. Please ask her when she will be here. Sample: A celebrity walked into the store. Gerunds: short responses. La independencia que Argentina obtuvo en 1810 no fue reconocida hasta 1816. Active Sample: They use the euro in most of the European Union. The independence that Argentina obtained in 1810 was not recognized until 1816. Could you ask them if they did the homework? Please ask her whether she finished the assignment. Indirect Requests Tell someone to do something Please tell Jane to clean up her room. Passive Sample: The euro is used in most of the European Union. Sample: I was watching a good movie. Tell someone some information Can you tell them (that) the party starts at nine? Please tell Mr. Would you ask him what he wants? Will you ask them how much it costs?
Past Continuous vs. Simple Past Use the past continuous for an action in progress in the past. My brother was the man that (who) was here a moment ago.
. I like traveling. Use the simple past for a completed action.
That must mean he agrees with you. Present perfect continuous. Use who or that for people. Relative clauses. Obligation. You can't camp here. If you get bored. He's an actor who/that won two Oscars. Present participles Past participles Stephen King's books are fascinating. I would / I'd go straight to the mall.
Unreal conditional sentences with if clauses. It possibly / probably means he doesn't agree with you. Participles as adjectives. you won't have to work as hard. That definitely means he agrees with you. Modals It might / may mean he doesn't understand you. Use the present perfect continuous for actions that start in the past and continue into the present. and Prohibition. I might go to the police. It could mean he doesn't agree with you. I'm fascinated by Stephen King's books.
Adverbs Maybe / Perhaps it means he doesn't understand you. or might If you get a high-paying job. I could buy lots of nice clothes and jewelry. Permission You can camp here.000. you'll might get bored. He won two Oscars. you may have to look for another job. you'll have a lot more free time.
You're allowed to take off You've got to take off your shoes. Permission. It's a movie which / that stars Kate Winslet. You aren't allowed to take off your shoes. If I found $750. Unreal conditional sentences describe imaginary situations with simple past forms and consequences in the present. It's a movie.Conditional sentences with if clauses. It stars Kate Winslet. may.
. Use which or that for things. I wouldn't return it so fast. He's an actor. Modals and adverbs.
You have to camp here. If you have a lot more free time. What have you been doing lately? I’ve been working two jobs for the last six months. Possible situation + simple present Consequence + future with will. If you don't have to work as hard. your shoes.
they might go out with friends.
Modal might / may could must Don't use s or plural Percent 0% 50% 100% Adverb maybe / perhaps probably definitely
Maybe: informal situation. (that) they couldn't come tomorrow.
Reported speech: statements. They told me We can't come tomorrow. We may go out with friends.
Reported statement She said (that) she wasn't feeling well. they would be out of town. She told me not to come home after midnight.
. She said not to come home after midnight. Reported request He asked me to play my music more quietly.Past modals. What would you have done? I would have called him. Reported speech: requests. with Kim. trip. Original request Can you play your music more quietly. Perhaps: formal situation. Sample: Chow Baby is used for feeding your pet while you are away. What should I have done? You should have told them about it. she had houseguest for the I have houseguest for the weekend. GERUNDS Describing something. I wouldn't have sent him an e-mail. We will be out of town. Don't come home after midnight. she had planned an exciting I have planned an exciting trip. Direct statement I'm not feeling well. she had made a tennis date I made a tennis date with Kim. weekend. Use would have or should have + past participle to give opinions or suggestions about actions in the past. You shouldn't have hidden it.
express give make offer tell anger a compliment a complaint an apology the truth a concern a reason a criticism sympathy a joke your regrets your congratulations an excuse an invitation a lie
. Might: chance in present or future more probably.May: chance in present or future. Verb and Noun pairs.
“We went out last night” She told me ________________________________________________________ 3. ---> had made a cake. perf.
Change this direct speech into reported speech: 1. “He works in a bank” She said ___________________________________________________________ 2. Present perfect: I have made a Past perfect: She said that she cake. “I’m coming!” She said ___________________________________________________________ 4. “I didn’t go to the party”
. “ I’d never been there before” She said ___________________________________________________________ 6.tense present simple present continuous past simple past continuous present perfect pres. Present continuous: I am Past continuous: She said than making a cake. ---> cake. continuous past perfect future simple future perfect
active I make a cake I am making a cake I made a cake I was making a cake I have made a cake
passive A cake is made (by me) A cake is being made (by me) A cake was made (by me) A cake was being made (by me)
A cake has been made (by me) A cake has been being made I have been making a cake (by me) I had made a cake I will make a cake I will have made a cake A cake had been made (by me) A cake will be made (by me) A cake will have been made (by me)
Past: She said than she made a Present: I make a cake. “I was waiting for the bus when he arrived” She told me ________________________________________________________ 5. ---> she was making a cake. Past perfect: She said that she Past :I drunk martinis ---> had drunk martinis.
“I won’t see you tomorrow” She said ___________________________________________________________ 13.She told me ________________________________________________________ 7. “They would help if they could” She said ___________________________________________________________ 18. “He could read when he was three” She said ___________________________________________________________ 20. “She hasn’t eaten sushi before” She said ___________________________________________________________ 16. “I can help you tomorrow” She said ___________________________________________________________ 10. “He hasn’t eaten breakfast” She told me ________________________________________________________ 9. “I don’t like chocolate” She told me ________________________________________________________ 12. “I hadn’t travelled by underground before I came to London” She said ___________________________________________________________ 17. “Lucy’ll come later” She said ___________________________________________________________ 8. “I visited my parents at the weekend” She told me ________________________________________________________ 15. “You should go to bed early” She told me ________________________________________________________ 11. “I was sleeping when Julie called” She said ___________________________________________________________
. “She’s living in Paris for a few months” She said ___________________________________________________________ 14. “I’ll do the washing-up later” She told me ________________________________________________________ 19.
She told me (that) she visited (had visited) her parents at the weekend. She told me (that) she didn't go (hadn't gone) to the party. 2. Relative clauses: who: when we talk about people which: when we talk about things whose: instead of his/her or their We also use that for who/which. She said (that) Lucy would come later. She said (that) she could help me tomorrow. She told me (that) she was waiting for the bus when he arrived. She said (that) she hadn't travelled by underground before she came to London. 19. She told me (that) they went (had gone) out last night (the night before). The house where we lived was very big. Ejemplo:
. 16. She said (that) he worked in a bank. She said (that) she had never been there before. She told me (that) he hadn't eaten breakfast. 9.Reported statements: Answers 1. 4. She said (that) he could read when he was three. Se puede usar where para hacer referencia a lugares. 15. 17. 14. She said (that) she had been sleeping when Julie called. She said (that) she wouldn't see me tomorrow. 6.
Relative clauses con where/whose/whom
1. She told me (that) she would do the washing-up later. She told me (that) she didn't like chocolate. 20. 18. She said (that) she is living in Paris for a few months. We lived there. 8. 12. 3. 5. She said (that) they would help if they could. 2. Se usa whom para hacer referencia a personas en frases donde es el objeto del verbo ver relative clauses 2. 10. She said (that) she was coming. Ejemplo: The house was very big. 11. 13. 7. La casa donde vivíamos era muy grande. She told me (that) I should go to bed early. She said (that) she hadn't eaten sushi before.
La persona a quien quería ver era Francesa. His dog had died. 3. Lo cual es lo mas normal en frases con relative clauses. We spoke to a woman whose bag had been stolen. The person who I wanted to see was French Las dos frases significan lo mismo el único diferencia es que whom es mas formal y se usa menos. Es muy formal y es mas corriente usar who. I saw the man. Ejemplo: The person to whom I spoke was French. La persona a quien hable era Francesa. En la segunda frase con who la preposición va DESPUES del verbo. PERO whom no es muy común en ingles hablado.
. Her bag had been stolen. I saw the man whose dog had died. Hablamos con una mujer cuyo bolso habia sido robado. The person to whom I spoke was French. Si se usa una preposición con whom tiene que ir antes de la palabra whom. Su bolso habia sido robado. The person who I spoke to was French. Se usa whose en vez de his/her/their en relative clauses Ejemplo: We spoke to a woman. Compara estas frases: The person whom I wanted to see was French. Hablamos con una mujer. Aquí el significado de las frases es lo mismo pero hay que estar atento a la posición de la preposición to.The person whom I wanted to see was French.
where and why are not omitted in non-defining relative clauses. . Why And When . The local branch manager. . However. informal
.formal. When. to whom he addressed his complaints. when most people are at home.formal The car he drove was really fast. Formal The Ritz. Example: I come from the Seattle area. NOTES: When speaking. was very helpful. referring to a reason. In defining relative clauses why and when. and I often go home during the summer. we often omit the relative pronoun. who I talked to about my problems. was very unhelpful. whom I spoke to by telephone.informal The book which I received for my birthday was excellent. referring to a place. Example: I'd like to know the reason (why) he decided not to come. where many successful companies such as Microsoft and Boeing are located.Relative Clauses and Preposition Use
Where. referring to a time. can be used instead of a relative pronoun after a noun. Whom is formal and most often used when writing. and when. . because of the relative calm. .informal Non-Defining Relative Clauses Formal Informal Person whom who Object which which Example: The bank manager. especially in informal spoken English. Relative clauses and prepositions In formal English prepositions can come before the relative pronoun. unlike where can be omitted. instructed me to buy 200 shares of WAKO. February is the month (when) many of my colleagues take skiing holidays.The Use Of Where. Defining Relative Clauses
Formal Informal Person whom Ø Object which Ø Example: The banker to whom I gave my check was quite friendly. He likes shopping between one and three. why. Example: John Robbins.formal The woman I talked to was very pleasant indeed. which was stayed at in New York. BUT! She always had wanted to go to a place where she could speak her native tongue. was extremely expensive. it much more common to place prepositions at the end of the relative clause. .
Relative pronoun used as a subject:
This is the house that had a great Christmas decoration. whom)* (which. who. where. when. They are used to join clauses to make a complex sentence. of which
(that. and why.
It took me a while to get used to people who eat pop-corn during the movie.Introduction and General Usage in Defining Clauses
Relative pronouns are that. The table below sums up the use of relative pronouns in defining clauses:
Function in the sentence People Subject Object Possessive who.
This is the house that Jack built. The information is crucial for understanding the sentence correctly and cannot be omitted. which. the relative pronoun may be omitted in the object position:
. whom. Defining clauses are opened by a relative pronoun and ARE NOT separated by a comma from the main clause. whom I respect. who. the choice of the relative pronoun depends on the type of clause it is used in. In both types of clauses the relative pronoun can function as a subject.
I don't know the day when Jane marries him. Relative pronouns are used at the beginning of the subordinate clause which gives some specific information about the main clause. an object. referring to a person or thing. that whose
Reference to Things / concepts Place Time Reason which. There are two types of clauses distinguished: defining (restrictive) relative clauses and non-defining (nonrestrictive) relative clauses.
In English. that where when why whose. was tenured.
Relative pronoun used as an object: 1) As can be seen from the table. whose.
The professor. or a possessive.
Relative pronouns in defining clauses
Defining relative clauses (also known as restrictive relative clauses) provide some essential information that explains the main clause.
The library didn't have the book (which / that) I wanted.
2) whom: In American English.
I didn't like the book (which / that) John gave me. It can be used with both people and things:
The family whose house burnt in the fire was immediately given a suite in a hotel. Who. It can also be substituted for who (referring to persons) or which (referring to things). whom is not used very often.
Common in Speech: The woman (who) you have just spoken to is my teacher. That is often used in speech. whom may not be omitted if preceded by a preposition:
I have found you the tutor for whom you were looking.
General remarks: That.
The book whose author is now being shown in the news has become a bestseller.
This is the house where I lived when I first came to the US. who and which are more common in written English. Whom is more formal than who and is very often omitted in speech:
Grammatically Correct: The woman to whom you have just spoken is my teacher. Which compared
The relative pronoun that can only be used in defining clauses.
However.This is the man (who / that) I wanted to speak to and whose name I'd forgotten.
Relative pronoun used as a possessive: Whose is the only possessive relative pronoun is in English.
any(thing). less formal
The café which sells the best coffee in town has recently been closed. referring to things. the sentence with which is more formal than the one with that: Note that since it is the defining clause. much.
However.spoken. when a particular person is being spoken about. some(thing):
. many. little. which may be used in the defining clause to put additional emphasis on the explanation.
The girl who wore a red dress attracted everybody's attention at the party. who is preferred:
The old lady who lives next door is a teacher. . more formal
Although your computer may suggest to correct it. . every(thing). That may be used to refer to someone in general:
He is the kind of person that/who will never let you down. no(thing). Again.
I am looking for someone that/who could give me a ride to Chicago.written.
that / which There several cases when that is more appropriate than and is preferred to which: After the pronouns all. there is NO comma used preceding which:
The café that sells the best coffee in town has recently been closed. less formal
William Kellogg was the man who lived in the late 19th century and had some weird ideas about raising children. few. none. more formal
Some special uses of relative pronouns in defining clauses
that / who Referring to people. both that and who can be used.William Kellogg was the man that lived in the late 19th century and had some weird ideas about raising children.
second. . etc.
After the noun modified by an adjective in the superlative degree:
This is the funniest story (that) I have ever read! . .that used as the object
After verbs that answer the question WHAT? For example.:
The first draft (that) we submitted was really horrible.that used as the object
After ordinal numbers.that used as the subject
. write. first.g. In this case. suggest.that used as the subject
Marrying a congressman is all (that) she wants. declare. hope. think. . e. say.that used as the object
If the verb in the main clause is a form of BE:
This is a claim that has absolutely no reason in it.
The chairman stated at the meeting (that) his company is part of a bigtime entertainment industry. . the whole relative clause functions as the object of the main clause:
Some people say (that) success is one percent of talent and ninety-nine percent of hard work..The police usually ask for every detail that helps identify the missing person. state. etc.