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RELATIVE PRONOUNS AND CLAUSES IN ENGLISH

1. DEFINING RELATIVE CLAUSES


2. NON DEFINING RELATIVE CLAUSES
3. PREPOSITIONS IN RELATIVE CLAUSES
4. OTHER RELATIVE CLAUSES
5. PRACTISE WITH THESE SENTENCES

1. DEFINING RELATIVE CLAUSES


They describe the preceding noun in such a way as to distinguish it
from other nouns of the same class. This kind of clauses is essential
to understand the noun clearly.

Ex.: The man who told me this refused to give his name
(relative clause, no commas, it distinguishes this particular
man, the relative is the subject of its sentence)
Ex.: The CD you bought is not very interesting
(relative clause, the relative is the object of its sentence –that /
which– and it has been omitted)

Subject Object

Persons who / that (who / whom / that)

Things which / that (which / that)

2. NON DEFINING RELATIVE CLAUSES


They do not define the noun, they only add some extra information to
it. They are not essential in the sentence and can be omitted. Usually
between commas. The structure is not very common in spoken
English.

Subject Object

Persons who who / whom

Things which which

Ex.: Peter, who wanted to make an impression on Ann, took


her to the best restaurant in town
(relative clause, between commas, it gives extra information
about Peter, the relative is the subject of its sentence)
Ex.: This CD, which was released only yesterday, is already
number 1.

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(relative clause, the relative is the object of its sentence)

3. PREPOSITIONS IN RELATIVE CLAUSES


When there is a preposition in a defining relative clause this can go
before the relative pronoun or at the end of the clause. The first case
is more formal and there we can’t omit the relative, we can’t use
that, and we use whom instead of who. This formal version is very
similar to the Spanish structure.
Ex.: The person (who / that) I talked to is nice (I)
Ex.: The person to whom I talked is nice (F)

In the case of non defining relative clauses only the more formal
version is possible.
Ex.: My sister, for whom all sports are equally attractive, is
very fit

4. OTHER RELATIVE CLAUSES

 Whose is the relative we use to connect two sentences, one of


which expresses the idea of possession. We use the same
pronouns for defining and non defining clauses.

Possessive

Persons whose

Things whose / of which

Ex.: This is the girl whose father works at the museum


Ex.: This is the chair whose leg is broken / of which the leg is
broken

 We use the relatives when and where to talk about time and
place.

where (ND)
Place
where / in which (D)

when (ND)
Time
(when / that) (D)

Ex.: The town where / in which I was born is very beautiful


Ex.: The day (when / that) JFK was shot I was in London

 What means the thing(s) that


Ex.: What annoyed me was that he didn’t tell the truth

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5. PRACTISE ALL THE POSSIBILITIES IN THESE SENTENCES

a. I met a girl. She lives in England


I met a girl who/that lives in England
b. Here is a book. You gave me this book last week
Here is the book (that/which) you gave me last week
c. I brought a dress to the party. I had bought it in Paris
I brought the dress (that/which) I had bought in Paris to the party
d. Sharon joined the youth group. I belong to it
Sharon joined the youth group (which/that) I belong to
Sharon joined the youth group to which I belong
e. I visited the person. I had been corresponding with him
I visited the person (that/who) I had been corresponding with
I visited the person with whom I had been corresponding
f. I didn’t like the thing that you said
I didn’t like what you said
g. The thing that I don’t like is violence
What I don’t like is violence
h. He brought in the coffee. The coffee’s flavour was strong
He brought in the coffee whose flavour was strong
i. The man thanked me. I did some work for him
The man for whom I did some work thanked me
The man (who/that) I did some work for thank me
j. The neighbourhood has been in the news. We lived there
The neighbourhood where we lived has been in the news.
k. Paris is the capital of France. It stands on the River Seine
Paris, which is the capital of France, stands on the River Seine
Paris, which stands on the River Seine, is the capital of France
l. This is the necklace. My brother bought it for my birthday
This is the necklace (that/which) my brother bought for my birthday.
m. The man was my friend at school. I’m going to marry his sister
The man whose sister I’m going to marry was my friend at school