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Relative Pronouns in English Grammar

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A relative pronoun is one which is used to refer to nouns mentioned previously, whether they are people, places, things, animals, or ideas.

There are only a few relative pronouns in the English language. The most common are which, that, whose, who, and whom. Relative pronouns can be used to join two sentences. 

Relative Pronouns

What Is A Relative Pronoun?

Relative pronouns are words that are used to introduce a subordinate clause that provides additional information about a noun or pronoun in the main clause. They include: who, whom, whose, which, and that. Relative pronouns help to connect clauses and make writing more concise and coherent. Here’s an example sentence: “The woman, who was wearing a red dress, waved to me.” In this sentence, “who” is the relative pronoun that introduces the subordinate clause “who was wearing a red dress.”

Relative Pronouns List

Here is a list of common relative pronouns:

  • Who
  • Whom
  • Whose
  • Which
  • That

Note that “who” and “whom” are used to refer to people, while “which” and “that” are used to refer to animals, things, and sometimes people. “Whose” is used to indicate possession.

Examples of Relative Pronouns

Sure, here are some examples of relative pronouns used in sentences:

  • The man who was driving the car was my uncle.
  • I don’t know the woman whom you were talking to.
  • The book, whose cover was torn, was still enjoyable to read.
  • The house, which was built in the 1800s, has a lot of historical significance.
  • The dog that barked at me earlier is now sleeping peacefully.

In each sentence, the relative pronoun (who, whom, whose, which, that) is used to introduce a subordinate clause that provides more information about the noun or pronoun in the main clause.

Relative Pronouns in English

Relative Pronouns


We use who in relative clauses to refer to people. Who can act as the subject or the subject of the relative clause.

  • Mrs Smithwho has a lot of teaching experience at junior level, will be joining the school in September. (whorefers to Mrs Smith and is the object of has in the relative clause)
  • She’s going out with a bloke who’s in the army. (who refers to a bloke and is the object of is in the relative clause; bloke is an informal word for a man)



We use whom in formal styles or in writing to refer to people when the person is the object of the verb. It is much more common in writing than in speaking.

  • The author whom you criticized in your review has written a reply. (whom refers to the author and is the object of criticized in the relative clause)
  • She was a celebrated actress whom he had known and loved, on and off, almost since her first appearance on the stage. (whom refers to a celebrated actress and is the object of known and loved in the relative clause)



We usually use whose as a relative pronoun to indicate possession by people and animals. In more formal styles we can also use it for things. We use whose before nouns instead of a possessive expression (my, your, his, her, its, our, their, x’s).

  • He’s marrying a girl whose family don’t seem to like him. (The family of the girl he’s marrying don’t seem to like him.)
  • There was me and there was Katewhose party it was, and then there were two other people. (It was Kate’s party.)



We use which in relative clauses to refer to animals and to things. We always use which to introduce relative clauses when they refer to a whole sentence or clause.

  • His best moviewhich won several awards, was about the life of Gandhi. (which refers to the his best movie and is the object of won in the relative clause)
  • She had to get up and walk all the way to the other side of the roomwhich isn’t easy with a bad back. (whichrefers to the whole sentence before it)



We use that instead of who, whom or which in relative clauses to refer to people, animals and things. That is more informal than whowhom or whichThat can act as the subject or the object of the relative clause.

  • Don’t take moneythat doesn’t belong to you. (that refers to money and is the subject of belong in the relative clause)
  • It’s the same cookerthat my mother has. (that refers to the same cooker and is the object of has in the relative clause)



Relative Pronouns in English | Images

Relative Pronouns in English

Relative Pronouns in English

Relative Pronouns in English

S G Somarathna

Wednesday 4th of October 2023

It is important to me ...improving my english knowledge ...thankyou ..


Monday 15th of June 2020

This was very helpful !