Using relative clauses

March 27, 2013pdf

Relative pronouns can be used to combine two clauses into one sentence. A relative pronoun acts as the subject or object of its verb. It also serves as a conjunction connecting the two clauses.

Study the examples given below.

  • The pen has been stolen.
  • I bought it yesterday.

We can combine these two sentences using a relative pronoun. Since the noun pen refers to a thing, we can use the relative pronoun which or that.

  • The pen which I bought yesterday has been stolen. OR The pen that I bought yesterday has been stolen.

Another example is given below.

  • The house is small.
  • We live in the house.
  • The house which we live in is small. OR The house that we live in is small.

Now consider another example.

  • The boy was called Jack.
  • He cleaned the table.

Here the pronoun he refers to a person. Therefore, we use the relative pronoun who or that to combine these two clauses.

  • The boy who cleaned the table was called Jack. OR The boy that cleaned the table was called Jack.
  • The man is my uncle.
  • You met him yesterday.

Here the pronoun him is the object of the verb met. We can replace it with the object relative pronoun whom or that.

  • The man whom you met yesterday is my uncle. OR The man that you met yesterday is my uncle.

Note that whom is only used in a very formal style. In an informal style, we use who.

  • The man who you met yesterday is my uncle.
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