Relative pronouns: some tips
Relative pronouns are important words. They not only connect two clauses but also serve as the subject or object of the verb in the clause introduced by them.
Study the sentences given below.
- The Wikipedia is a free reference site. It is accessed by millions across the world.
We can connect these two sentences using a relative pronoun.
The Wikipedia, which is a free reference site, is accessed by millions across the world.
Here the relative pronoun which not only connects the two clauses but also serves as the subject of the relative clause ‘which is a free reference site’.
Although relative pronouns are relatively easy to use, students often confuse them. In this lesson, we will give you some tips to avoid common mistakes in the use of relative pronouns.
Who, whom and whose
The relative pronouns who, whom are only used to refer to people. They cannot be used to refer to animals or other objects.
- The farmer killed the dog which bit the boy. (NOT The farmer killed the dog who bit the boy.)
Note that whom and whose are the object and possessive forms of who.
The relative pronoun whose can refer to people or things.
- It was a movie whose plot I didn’t understand.
Here the relative pronoun whose refers back to the inanimate object movie.
- I saw a girl whose beauty enchanted me.
Here the relative pronoun whose refers back to a person (girl)
The relative pronoun which can only refer to animals or things. It cannot be used to refer to people.