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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.

Relative Pronouns Examples

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

  1. The cyclist who won the race trained hard.
  2. The pants that I bought yesterday are already stained.
  3. The four team leaders, whomever the committee selects, will be at tomorrow's meeting.
  4. Spaghetti, which we eat at least twice a week, is one of my family's favorite meals.
  5. Where did you buy the dress what you wore last week?
  6. The book, when it was finally returned, was torn and stained.
  7. The store on the corner, where we usually buy all of our art supplies, burned to the ground.