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Relative Pronouns

What is a relative pronoun?

A relative pronoun is one which is used to refer to nouns mentioned previously, whether they are people, places, things, animals, or ideas. Relative pronouns can be used to join two sentences.

There are only a few relative pronouns in the English language. The most common are which, that, whose, whoever, whomever, who, and whom. In some situations, the words what, when, and where can also function as relative pronouns. Because there are only a few of them, there are also just a few rules for using relative pronouns. Keep them in mind as you write.

  • Relative clauses are typically introduced by relative pronouns, and that the relative pronoun can function as a possessive pronoun, an object, or a subject.
  • When relative pronouns introduce restrictive relative clauses, no comma is used to separate the restrictive clause from the main clause.
  • In American English, the relative pronoun whom is used rarely. You may notice this in conversations, but it is best to use the term when writing to ensure that your work is grammatically correct.

Examples of Relative Pronouns

The following sentences contain examples of relative pronouns. The relative pronoun in each example is italicized.

The cyclist who won the race trained hard.

The pants that I bought yesterday are already stained.

The four team leaders, whomever the committee selects, will be at tomorrow’s meeting.

Relative Pronouns Exercises

The following exercises will help you gain greater understanding about how relative pronouns work. Choose the best answer to complete each sentence.

  1. The festival, ­­­­­­­­­­­______________ lasted all day, ended with a banquet.
    1. That
    2. Who
    3. Which
    4. What

Answer: C. The festival, which lasted all day, ended with a banquet.

  1. I am looking for someone __________ can watch my dog while I go on vacation.
    1. Which
    2. Who
    3. Whom
    4. Whoever

Answer: B. I am looking for someone who can watch my dog while I go on vacation.

  1. The police needed details _____________ could help identify the robber.
    1. Who
    2. Whatever
    3. That
    4. What

Answer: C. The police needed details that could help identify the robber.

  1. I’d like to take you to a café _______________ serves excellent coffee.
    1. What
    2. Whatever
    3. Which
    4. Whichever

Answer: C. I’d like to take you to a café which serves excellent coffee.

  1. The clubhouse, in __________ the dance was held, housed about 200 people.
    1. Which
    2. Where
    3. That
    4. Whom

Answer: A. The clubhouse, in which the dance was held, housed about 200 people.

 

List of Relative Pronouns

Who

Whom

That

Which

Whoever

Whomever

Whichever