Relative pronouns

Most English speakers use relative pronouns every day, though they may not understand what are relative pronouns. We will discuss exactly what is a relative pronoun, learn how to identify a relative pronoun, look at a list of relative pronouns, and some examples of relative pronouns as they are used in sentences.

A relative pronoun refers to a noun which was previously mentioned in the sentence, and connects a relative clause to an independent clause. A relative clause is also known as a dependent clause or subordinate clause. A relative pronoun definition is a pronoun that connects an independent clause to a dependent clause. There are very few relative pronouns in the English language. A relative pronouns list:

who              whom         whose      whoever      whomever

which           that             what         when           where

A relative pronoun introduces a clause which adds more information concerning the subject of the sentence. If the information in the relative or dependent clause adds vital information to the sentence, it is known as a defining relative clause. Some examples of that and whose in a sentence with a defining relative clause:

She owns the dog that I found yesterday.

Here is the neighbor whose house burned down.

If the information relayed by the relative or dependent clause is not vital information, it is known as a non-defining relative clause. Some examples of which and who in a sentence with a non-defining clause:

I read a book which is now out of print.

Jerry, who is a good surfer, came to the shop yesterday.

People often confuse the use of the relative pronouns who and that. Remember, who is used when referring to a person, that is used when referring to a thing or animal.

I enjoy meeting women who have accomplished great things.

Please eat the food that is leftover.

Even native English speakers are sometimes confused about using which or that. Generally, the word which is used when introducing a non-defining clause. The word that is used when introducing a defining clause.

The trees, which often sway in the breeze, grow at the end of the lane.

The tree that fell down almost hit my roof.

Remember, the best relative pronouns definition is a pronoun referring to the subject of the sentence and connecting a relative clause to the independent clause.

More relative pronouns examples:

He is a physician whom I have known for many years.

She apologized to whomever she injured.

I want to be where people like to dance.

I remember when telephones had dials.