Grammar

Relatives Grammar

by VIDYANAND

/

Relative Pronouns and Relative Clauses 

Relative pronouns are words which are used to link two sentences or clauses that may have the same noun or pronoun.  Relative pronouns are used to introduce relative clauses.

Rajani is the girl who escorted the Vice President to his seat.

Relative Pronoun          Relative Clause                                               

This is the house that I bought.

Relative Pronoun     Relative Clause


Types of Relative Pronouns

  • Who
  • Whom
  • That
  • Which
  • Whose

Who

It is used to refer to the animate noun of the sentence. The noun in such cases is usually a person. The pronoun ‘who’ is used to refer to the doer of the action. In other words, it is used to refer to the subject.

Ex –

This is the man who repairs computers.

Who repairs computers? The man

Krishna is the grocer who refused to return the change.

Who refused to return the change? Krishna

Whom

It is used to refer to the animate noun of the sentence. The noun in such cases is usually a person. ‘Whom’ is used to refer to the person who receives the action. In other words, it is used to refer to the object.

EX –

Van Gogh was the artist whom they dismissed as talentless.

Whom did they dismiss as talentless? Van Gogh

Dinesh is the one whom Akshay accused of stealing.

Whom did Akshay accuse of stealing? Dinesh

That

It is used for referring to both animate and inanimate nouns.  

EX –

He purchased the car that I wanted to sell

This is the dog that I saw in the park.

Which

It is used to refer to inanimate nouns.

EX –

This is the book, which my cousin told me about.

The glass, which is filled up to the brim, has fallen down.

In most cases, ‘that’ and ‘which’ are interchangeable. However, in formal usage, both have specific uses. ‘That’ and ‘which’ are used when the accompanying clause is crucial to the sentence. Removal of ‘which’ would render the sentence incomplete. 

This is the boat that/which the fishermen found. This is the boat.

The pronoun ‘which’ can also be used to introduce a modifying clause that is not crucial to the sentence. It is separated from the rest of the sentence with the help of two commas. Removal of the clause will not effect any change in the meaning of the sentence.

The notebook, which was kept on the table, was ripped to pieces by

the pups. The notebook was ripped to pieces by the pups.

Whose

It is used to indicate possession by an animate noun or the pronoun.

EX –

This is my aunt Manjula whose house I live in.

This is the person whose phone I used.

Animate (People)WhoWhomWhose
Inanimate(things)ThatThatOf which

Relative Adverbs

Some adverbs can function like relative pronouns. 

  • When
  • Where
  • Why

When 

It is used instead of the phrase ‘in/on which’. 

Ex –

  • Those were the days when I had a lot of free time.
  • It was a time when nature was conducive to mankind.

Where 

It is used instead of the phrase ’at/on which’.

EX –

  • Mr Silas was laid to rest where the rest of his family was buried.
  • Rajiv stayed in the same hotel where we did a year ago.

Why

It is used to replace the phrase ‘for which’

EX –

  • This is the reason why students are stressed these days
  • Orthodoxy is the reason why they suspect western medicine

Relative Clauses

Relative clauses are those that are introduced by a relative pronoun.

  • Krishna is the grocer who refused to return the change.
  • This is the house that has been booked by the Mehtas.
  • The dog which has a red collar is the neighbour’s pet Ginger.
  • The place, where I parked my car, is close to the shopping complex.

Types of Relative Clauses

  1. Restrictive relative clause
  2. Non-restrictive relative clause

Restrictive relative clause: It is a clause which describes the preceding noun in manner that distinguishes it from the rest of its kind. The clause is not separated from the rest of the sentence with commas.

  • This is the boy who robbed you yesterday.
  • My cousin Madhu who lives in China arrived for my sister’s wedding.
  • The book that you saw on my table yesterday is a gift

Non-restrictive relative clause: It is a clause which is placed after the noun that is already defined.  The clause only provides additional information which is not important to the sentence.  It is separated from the rest of the sentence with the help of commas.

  • The hat, which Aunt Gertrude gifted me, is missing.
  • Manjeet, who is known for his culinary skills, cooked a delicious meal.
  • Mr Rao, whom I worked for in the 70s, lives in this building.