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Relative Pronouns

Updated on September 19, 2020
What are Relative Pronouns?
What are Relative Pronouns? | Source

What are Relative Pronouns?

A relative pronoun is a kind of a pronoun which functions as a pronoun as well as a conjunction. It is known as a relative pronoun because it joins two sentences and makes it a single sentence. That’s why; it is also referred to as a conjunctive pronoun. For example, in the following sentences, the highlighted words are relative pronouns.

  1. This is the book that I had lost.
  2. I met Hamid who was a doctor in USA.
  3. This is Adela whom you met at the airport.
  4. The lady, who has just returned from London, is here.
  5. My bike, which I recently bought, is out of order.
  6. This is the girl whose movie has been nominated for the award.

If you analyze the above sentences, you will definitely observe that every sentence is a combination of two sentences. These sentences are connected with each other through which, who, whom, whose and that which are relative pronouns. They refer to a noun, which is called Antecedent. For example, in the above sentences, the nouns book, Hamid, Adela, lady, bike and girl are all antecedents.

Use of Relative Pronouns

Following are the relative pronouns:


That is used for persons and things. It refers to a singular or plural noun. For example:

  1. This is the girl that stole your purse.
  2. I have lost the book that she gave me.
  3. I know the company that he works in.


Which is used for animals and inanimate objects. It refers to a singular or plural noun. For example:

  1. The dog, which had bitten you, is still alive.
  2. This is the book which you had bought in Islamabad.
  3. I have returned you the money which you lent me.


Who is used for people. It may refer to a singular or plural nouns.

  1. The person, who complained against you, is coming here.
  2. This is the boy who wanted to meet you.
  3. Find out the persons who violated the laws.


Whose is used for people, animals and things to show possession.

  1. The students, whose houses destroyed during the flood, are exempted from admission fee.
  2. This is the dog whose name is Lucy.
  3. There are many authors whose books are based on religion.


Whom is used for people only. It may refer to a singular or plural noun.

  1. This is the person whom you met in the market.
  2. The girls, whom you gave donations, are requesting to meet you.
  3. These are the boys whom you want to support.

When to Use Commas with Relative Pronouns?

Majority of the people don’t understand how to use commas with relative pronouns. When relative pronouns are used for the sake of adding extra information or describing the noun, then commas are used with them. For example:

  1. The train, which had a super-fast engine, is out order.
  2. The person, whom you saw in the market, has died.
  3. The lady, who greeted you, is here.
  4. My brother, who is a doctor, is coming from China.

Compound Relative Pronouns

The pronouns whichever, whoever and whatever are called compound relative pronouns. These pronouns are used to refer to anyone and anything among many things or persons. Look at the following sentences, wherein the highlighted words are compound relative pronouns:

  1. Whatever you want, take it.
  2. Whoever likes to write this assignment should come forward.
  3. It takes 3 hours, whichever road you take.

Relative Pronouns Quiz

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