Relative Pronouns - Connect Your Sentences Correctly

Oprettet 18/12-2017 af LingoBob

It is very common to make mistakes when using relative pronouns. A relative pronoun is used to refer to previously mentioned nouns whether they are objects or subjects. Relative pronouns can be used to join two sentences but you need to use the right one for the right situation. When do you use the relative pronouns “who”, “whose”, “whom”, “that” and “which”?

We have tried to simplify this here:  

Who, whose and whom is used when referring to people.

which is used when referring to a thing or an idea.

that is like a joker and can be used for both.

 

Who:

Who refers to a person.

Examples of who:

"The person who attended my call was very helpful."

"Thomas Edison was the scientist who invented the light bulb."

"Who ate my sandwich?"

 

Whose:

Whose refers to ownership and is the possessive form of who.

Examples of Whose:

"Whose seat is this?"

"This is John, whose wife works at the bakery."

"I found a wallet but I don’t know whose it is."

 

Whom:

A difficult relative pronoun is whom. Whom is used as the object of a verb or proposition.

Examples of whom:

"To whom do you wish to speak?"

"Whom should I talk to about this problem?"

"I had an uncle in America, from whom I inherited some money."

 

We recognise that it can be a challenge to distinguish between who and whom but following some simple tricks will make the choice a lot easier for you:

Who can be substituted by he/she/ because it is used as the subject of a verb.

Whom can be substituted by him/she because it is used as an object.

Udklip.JPG

 

Who or Whom

Now let us have a look at the sentences once again:

"The person who attended my call was very helpful."

(Who is the subject of the verb attended) you can substitute who with he (he attended)

Who is, therefore, the correct choice here.

"Thomas Edison was the scientist who invented the light bulb."

The same thing, he invented...

"Who ate my sandwich?"

He ate…

And…

Whom is always the object of the sentence. Note that you sometimes need to rearrange the sentence a bit for it to make sense.

"To whom do you wish to speak?"

(Whom is the object of the verb speak) here you can substitute whom for him/her in the sentence. "Do you wish to speak to him/her?

"Whom should I talk to about this problem?"

The same thing “should I talk to him about this problem?”

"You gave the gift to whom?"

Again, whom is the object of the verb talk and can be replaced by him/her.

"Betty went with whom yesterday?"

Replace whom with him/her

 

If “he” or “she” fit in the sentence, who would be the right choice

If “him” or “her” fit in the sentence, whom would be the right choice

 

That or Which

When to use that/which is another grammatically confusing question.

To use the right word, we need to distinguish between restrictive and non-restrictive elements. 

  • A restrictive element is a word, phrase or a clause that manages to limit the meaning of the sentence that it modifies. When a restrictive element is not included then the entire meaning of the sentence will change
  • A non-restrictive element is a word, phrase or clause that provides excess information about the beginning of a sentence without restricting the meaning of that part of the sentence. A non-restrictive element can be left out of the sentence without changing the meaning of the sentence. 

We need examples:

That is a restrictive element. 

Look at this sentence:

"Our room that has a painting on the wall is big".

The sentence suggests that we have multiple rooms, but the room that has a painting on the wall - is big. That phrase is a restrictive element because it depends on the subject. You can not remove the restrictive element without changing the meaning of the sentence. So basically, you explain something about a specific room among many rooms, therefore, you will need a restrictive element to clarify the exact room that you want to explain something about. 

Which Is a non-restrictive element. 

Now look at this sentence:

"Our room, which has a painting on the wall, is big".

The sentence suggests that we have just one room, and that is big. The non-restrictive element which has a painting on the wall gives us merely additional information, but it does not change the meaning of the sentence. Without the non-restrictive element, the sentence will still provide the reader with the same conclusive message - our room is big. 

 

Now, you should know the meaning and difference between these two sentences:

"The man that paints the wall is hired by the supermarket" 

"The man, which paints the house, is hired by the supermarket"

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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