Many sentences in the English language are really two clauses linked together. There can be a main clause and a relative clause. Look at these two sentences.
We can do a little tweaking and turn the clauses into one sentence. Like this:
The clause that Mary baked is called a relative clause and it’s linked to the main clause by a special kind of pronoun. That special pronoun is known as a relative pronoun.
What Are Relative Pronouns?
Relative pronouns are used to link a relative clause to another part of a sentence and has the job of introducing the relative clause. We use the term “relative” pronoun because it “relates” to the word it is modifying. Clever right?
Here is the list. The relative pronouns are:
One aspect of grammar that seems to cause a lot of confusion is when to use who and when to use whom. Let’s clear that up right now, shall we? Use the relative pronouns who and whoever if you are referring to the subject of the sentence. Use whom and whomever if you’re referring to the objects of a verb or preposition. Have questions?
Relative Pronoun Examples:
In this sentence whom is the direct object of the verb believed and also introduces the clause whom she believed to be the most reliable and talented. This clause modifies the noun students.
Here the relative pronoun who is the subject of the verb draws and also introduces the clause draws the winning number. In this case the clause acts as an adjective modifying the word person.
Here are more examples of relative pronouns and how they are used:
In this sentence whoever acts as the subject of the verb spilled.
Here which functions as the subject of the compound verb was put. It also introduces the defining clause which was put in the fruit bowl. The clause acts as an adjective and modifies the noun fruit.
In this example whichever modifies the noun package and introduces the clause whichever package arrives first. The clause also functions as the direct object of the compound verb will open.
When using non-defining relative clauses make sure you use commas at the beginning and end of the clause.
Remember to use relative pronouns when you need to link a relative clause to another clause. They may act as the subject of the sentence or the object of a verb or preposition.