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Relative pronouns

Relative pronouns and relative adverbs

What are relative pronouns? and what are relative adverbs?

Relative pronouns: Who, whom, whose, which, and that.

Relative adverbs: Where, when, and why.

1. Relative Pronouns (Who, whom, which, that):

A. who, whom, that:

  1. That’s my friend.
  2. My friend works as a doctor.

→ That’s my friend who/that works as a doctor.

→ That’s my friend works as a doctor. (incorrect)

→ That’s my friend who /whom / that I meet every day.

→ That’s the friend I meet every day. (correct)

Tips:

Who, whom, and that are used for people. The relative pronouns (who, whom, that) can be omitted when there is a noun or a subject pronoun between the relative pronoun and the verb.

B. Whose

  • This is the man. His son is the creator of WhatsApp.

→ This is the man whose son is the creator of WhatsApp.

  • This is the car. Its engine is very expensive.

→ This is the car whose engine is very expensive.

Tip:

 ‘Whose’ indicates possession. It can be used for people, things and animals. ‘Whose’ cannot be omitted.

C. Which, that

  • A school bus is a vehicle.
  • It takes students to and from school.

→ A school bus is a vehicle which / that takes students to and from school.

→ A school bus is a vehicle takes students to and from school. (incorrect)

→ The school bus is the vehicle which/that I use to go to school.

→ The school bus is the vehicle I use to go to school. (correct)

Tips:

  • When which and that are followed by a verb, they cannot be omitted.

  • When which and that are followed by a subject (noun or subject pronoun), they can be omitted.

2. Relative adverbs (where, when, why)

  • A library is a place where students read books.
  • I know an excellent restaurant where we can try Japanese food.
  • I will never forget the day when I was born.
  • Do you remember the weekend when we climbed Mount Everest?
  • I can’t understand the reason why she left her new job.

Tips:

  • Where is used for place.

  • When is used for time.

  • Why is used for reason.

Relative clauses

A relative clause is a clause which is introduced by a relative pronoun or a relative adverb. There are two types of relative clauses, namely defining relative clauses (also called restrictive relative clauses) and non-defining relative clauses (also called non-restrictive relative clauses).

1. Defining relative clauses

  • The students who worked hard passed their exams.

“who worked hard” is a defining relative clause. It starts with a relative pronoun and it defines which students we are talking about. It answers the question “which students?”

Defining relative clauses:

  • Are not used between commas.

  • Are indispensable to the meaning.

  • Identify or define the person, the thing, the place, etc. we are talking about.

2.Non-defining relative clauses

  • The students who worked hard passed their exams.

who worked hard” here is a non-defining relative clause because it does not define which students we are talking about. It just gives additional (extra) information about the students.

Tips:

Non-defining relative clauses:

  • Are used between commas.

  • Can be omitted.

  • Are not essential to the meaning of the sentence.

  • They just give additional information about the person, the thing, the place, etc. we are talking about.

Now, look at these two sentences. Do they have the same meaning?

  1. The students, who worked hard, passed their exams.
  2. The students who worked hard passed their exams.

Sentence 1 and sentence 2 are definitely different in terms of meaning. The first sentence means that all the students passed their exams. The fact that they worked hard is just extra information about the students. However, the second sentence means that only some of the students passed their exams. They are the students who worked hard.

Relative pronouns exercise

Complete with the right relative pronoun or relative adverb.

  1. Leonardo Da Vinci is the artist ………painted the Mona Lisa.
  2. An Oscar is an award………..actors and directors win.
  3. That’s the dog …….owner was arrested by the police.
  4. Shakespeare is the playwright……….wrote Romeo and Juliet.
  5. Facebook is the social networking website…………millions of people use everyday.
  6. That is the the house…………interior was designed by my sister.
  7. That is the house ………we bought last week.
  8. That was the year …………..my father graduated from university.
  9. This is the company………..my son works.
  10. A kangaroo is an animal ……….lives in Australia.

You might like to learn how to form new words using prefixes and suffixes.

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