Relative Pronoun - Explore Definition, Types and Examples

‘What’, ‘Who’, ‘Which’ – Did you know that these words are not just to be used to ask questions but also to relate one part of the sentence to another? Learn more about how these words are used as relative pronouns. Read through the following topics for a better and in-depth understanding.

What Is a Relative Pronoun?

A relative pronoun is a word that is used to connect an independent clause to a relative clause. Relative pronouns are meant to provide more information about the subject (noun or pronoun) it relates to. These relative pronouns function exactly like adjectives, and so the clauses they form can also be called adjective clauses.

Definition of a Relative Pronoun

According to the Collins Dictionary, ‘a relative pronoun is a word such as ‘who’, ‘that’, or ‘which’ that is used to introduce a relative clause.’ The Macmillan Dictionary gives a similar definition. According to it, a relative pronoun is ‘a pronoun such as ‘who’, ‘that’, or ‘which’ that introduces a relative clause in a sentence.’

Examples of Relative Pronouns

Relative pronouns are used to form complex sentences. Examples of relative pronouns include who, whom, whose, which and that.

Who – Refers to a person (the noun/pronoun/subject which does the action)

Whom – Refers to the object (the noun or pronoun that receives the action)

Whose – Used to show possession of something or someone

That – Used in a defining clause that refers to a person, animal or thing

Which – Used in a non-defining clause that refers to a person, animal or thing

Here are some examples of how relative pronouns can be used in sentences.

  • Sheela, who is a teacher, also works as a social worker.
  • The car that was stolen last month was found in a river.
  • Susan is the girl whom I was talking about.
  • The boy, whose sister is a renowned orator, is an orator himself.
  • The girl, who saved the little boy, was appreciated by everyone.

There is another category of relative pronouns called compound relative pronouns, formed by the addition of ‘-ever’ or ‘-soever’. Whatever, whatsoever, whoever, whosoever and whichever are some of the compound relative pronouns. Look at the following examples to understand how they are used in sentences.

  • Whoever is ready can speak first.
  • You can take whichever sweet you like.
  • Whatever he takes up, he finishes it in time.
  • Whatsoever you do to others, it will be done to you.
  • Whosoever runs the fastest will win the race.

Check Your Understanding of Relative Pronouns

There is just one thing that you should keep in mind when combining two sentences using relative pronouns. Make sure you locate the subject or object both sentences refer to and then replace it with the most suitable relative pronoun.

Just give it a try. Use suitable relative pronouns to link the following sentences:

1. The student solved the math problem. The teacher appreciated the student.

2. My aunt bought me a ukulele. I love the ukulele.

3. Shanu has played the lead role in the new movie. Shanu is a doctor by profession.

4. This is my brother. He moved to New York last year.

5. Sid won a lottery. Sid is my brother’s friend.

6. Teena borrowed the white bag. Teena did not return it.

7. We had our college reunion dinner in the seafood restaurant. The restaurant is now closed.

8. My mom asked me to clean up the box. The box was filled with old clothes we no longer use.

9. The students like their English teacher. The English teacher is from Bangalore.

10. The bottle game is liked by all. Have you played the game?

 

Let us find out if you have got it all right.

1. The teacher appreciated the student who solved the math problem.

2. I love the ukulele that my aunt bought me.

3. Shanu, who is a doctor by profession, has played the lead role in the new movie.

4. This is my brother who moved to New York last year.

5. Sid, who is my brother’s friend, won a lottery.

6. Teena did not return the white bag that she borrowed.

7. We had our college reunion dinner in the seafood restaurant, which is now closed.

8. My mom asked me to clean up the box, which was filled with old clothes we no longer use.

9. The students like their English teacher, who is from Bangalore.

10. Have you played the bottle game that is liked by all?

Frequently Asked Questions on Relative Pronouns

What is a relative pronoun?

A relative pronoun is a word that is used to connect an independent clause to a relative clause. Relative pronouns are meant to provide more information about the subject it relates to. Relative pronouns include who, whom, whose, that and which.

What is the definition of a relative pronoun?

According to the Collins Dictionary, ‘a relative pronoun is a word such as ‘who’, ‘that’, or ‘which’ that is used to introduce a relative clause.’ The Macmillan Dictionary gives a similar definition of relative pronouns. According to it, a relative pronoun is ‘a pronoun such as ‘who’, ‘that’, or ‘which’ that introduces a relative clause in a sentence.’

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