Relative Pronouns and Its Use

It is used to connect a Clause/Phrase to a Noun or Pronoun.

· Words like Who, When, Which, Whoever, Whomever, Whichever are frequently used as a part of our everyday lexicon to prep up our sentences.

A Relative Pronoun is usually seen in the beginning of an adjective clause which functions as an adjective and modifies the Noun/ Pronoun.

· An Adjective Clause starts with either a relative adverb such as – where, when, why.


· A Relative Pronoun such as that, who, whom, whose, which, whichever, whoever, whomever, whatever or the same words ending with the archaic suffix – so ever, seldom brought into use now.

Examples of Adjective Clause starting with Relative Pronoun:

1.       Instant Noodles, which many of us relish, is known to have detrimental effect on health.

2.       This is the movie that is gaining rave reviews.

3.       She is writing a letter to the boy whom she met on the train.

4.       We didn’t bring along our identification documents, which was a big mistake.

5.       I have a friend whose dog is adorable.

6.       He is an actor whose films are box-office hits.


Relative Pronouns are quite similar to conjunctions since they help to join a sentence with a clause. However, the difference lies in the fact that they do not only draw attention to the clause but also serve as the Subject / Object in a sentence, thus performing the role of a Pronoun.




Used for people




Used for things




Used for People/Things




A.  Relative Pronouns are frequently used after a Noun to make it clear which person/thing is talked about.


1.       The woman whom he married.

2.       The house that he bought.


B. Relative Pronouns are also used to render additional information about a person or a thing.


1.       My wife, who was born in erstwhile Pakistan, is an avid traveller.

2.       We had biryani, which is our favourite, the last time we visited Kolkata.

3.       My teacher, who is now 74 years old, leads quite a fulfilling life.

·  But the word ‘that’ is not used as a Subject in such sentences. Instead we make use of ‘whose’

e.g.: This is Mr. Sharma, whose wife is the Ward Councillor of our locality.

· 'Whom’ is also used as the Object of a verb or Preposition

e.g.: This is Soham, whom we had introduced to your family last month.

·  But now a days, it is ‘who’ which has come to replace ‘whom’ in most such cases making ‘whom’ almost obsolete.

e.g.:       This is Michael, who I went to school with.


·  If preposition is used along with whom/ which it can be used at the beginning of the clause or at the end alternatively.

e.g.:       I had an employer from whom I learnt a lot.

              I had an employer whom I learnt a lot from.

e.g.:       We bought a bike with which we commuted to college.

We bought a bike, which we commuted to college with.

· We can also use ‘that’ in place of whom / which in the earlier examples.

E.g.: I had an employer that I learnt a lot from.

We bought a bike that we commuted to college with.   

English Grammar and Composition

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