Relative Pronouns in English: Usage and Useful Examples

Relative pronouns! Following is a list of common relative pronouns in English with ESL pictures and example sentences to help you master your English grammar.

Relative Pronouns

What is a Relative Pronoun?

A relative pronoun functions as a word that links two clauses into a single complex clause. It is similar in function to a subordinating conjunction. Unlike a conjunction, however, a relative pronoun stands in place of a noun.

In English, relative pronouns are who, whom, which, that, where, whose, when, why, what.

List of Relative Pronouns

Learn relative pronouns with their usages and examples.

WHICH

  • Which” refers to animals and objects.
  • Can act as the subject or the object of the relative clause

Examples:

  • The wisdom of nations lies in their proverbs, which are brief and pithy.
  •  Laws are like cobwebs, which may catches small flies, but let wasps and horns break through.
  • Never leave that until tomorrow which you can do today.
  • He was unwilling to make a prediction about which books would sell in the coming year.

THAT

  • That” refers to people, things, and animals (who and which can be replaced by that, which we use commonly in spoken English)
  • Can act as the subject or the object of the relative clause

Examples:

  •  It’s a poor mouse that has only on hole.
  • The love that is too violent will not last long.
  • It is a good horse that never stumbles; and a good wife that never grumbles.
  • Think about the misforture of others that you may be satisfied with your own lot.

WHO

  • Who” refers to people
  • Can act as the subject or the object of the relative clause

Examples:

  • He who overcomes his anger subdues his greatest enemy.
  • I don’t know who my grandfather was. I’ m much more concerned to know what his grandson will be.
  • He who is ashamed of asking is ashamed of learning.
  • The man who makes no mistakes does not usually make anything.

WHOM

  • “Whom” refers to person when the person is the object of the verb

Examples

  • She’s the woman whom I met in Greece.
  • From whom did you receive these flowers?
  • They demanded a huge ransom for the return of the little girl whom they had kidnapped.
  • The author whom you criticized in your review has written a reply.

WHOSE

  • “Whose” refers to possessions of people, animals

Examples:

  • Whose keys are on the kitchen counter?
  • Choose a stylist recommended by someone whose hair you like.
  • She’s the student whose handwriting is the best in my class.
  • I felt great pity for the woman whose baby died.

WHERE

  • “Where” refers to places

Examples:

  • The moon is not seen where the sun shines.
  • Love will creep where it may not go.
  • Sign your name on the form where I’ve put a cross.
  •  My leg is still very tender where it was bruised.
  • With a nod of his head he indicated to me where I should sit.

WHEN

  • “When” refers to time

Examples:

  • He is wise that knows when he’s well enough.
  • The highest possible stage in moral culture is when we recognize that we ought to control our thoughts.
  • The wolf has a winning game when the shepherds quarrel.
  • Let’s cross the bridge when we come to it.

WHY

  • Why” refers to reasons

Examples:

  • She cited three reasons why people get into debt.
  • Everyone was curious as to why Mark was leaving.
  • I think you’d better tell us why you’re asking these questions.
  • I’d like to know the reason why you’re so late.

WHAT

  • “That” refers to things

Examples

  • Don’t put off what you can do today till tomorrow.
  • Never trust another what you should do yourself.
  • It is no use doing what you like ; you have got to like what you do.
  • Pardon me – I didn’t hear what you said.

Relative Pronouns | Infographic

Relative Pronouns in English: Usage and Useful Examples

Relative Pronouns in English: Usage and Useful Examples 1

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