Relative Pronouns – Complete Explanation

English Grammar

Do you want to study English grammar? Grammar is one of important aspect of English. If you understand about grammar, your English will be perfect. You will also be able to understand English text easily.

Well, in this occasion, I will give explanation about Relative Pronouns.
Do you ever hear about this material before? If you are not, please pay attention my explanation about this material and read this material carefully. Oke, check this out.

Definition of relative pronouns?

Relative pronouns or adjective clause (also called  adjectival clause) is a dependent clause which modifies a noun and usually begins with a relative pronoun (which, that, who, whom, whose) or a relative adverb (where, when, why).


  • Students who work hard get good grades.
    → The adjective clause who work hard modifies the noun
  • The book which you lent me is very interesting.
    → The adjective clause which you lent me modifies the noun the book.
  • Leila, whose father is a famous poet, invited me to her birthday party.
    → The adjective clause whose father is a famous poet modifies the noun
  • My grandmother remembers the days when there were no personal computers.
    → The adjective clause when there were no personal computers modifies the noun the days.

Relative pronouns

who – subject or object pronoun for people

They caught the lady who killed her baby.
I know the man who you met.

which – subject or object pronoun

I read the book which is on the table.
I visited the town which you told me about.

which – referring to a whole sentence

They were unsuccessful which is disappointing.

whom – used for object pronoun for people, especially in non-restrictive relative clauses (in restrictive relative clauses use who)

The boy whom you told me about got the best grades in mathematics.

that – subject or object pronoun for people, animals and things in restrictive relative clauses (who or which are also possible)

I like the vase that is over there.

whose – possessive pronoun

Leila, whose father is a famous poet, invited me to her birthday party.

Relative adverb

(where, when, why).

There are two types of adjective clauses:

  • restrictive or defining clauses
  • non-restrictive or non-defining clauses

Restrictive / Defining Clauses

Restrictive (also called defining) clauses give essential information about the noun. These clauses don’t require commas.


  • The man who is standing there is a secret agent.
  • The writer who won the Nobel Prize is from Colombia.

Non-restrictive / non-defining clauses

Non-restrictive (also called non-defining) clauses give extra or non-essential information about the noun. These clauses require commas.


  • Fast food, which most people love, is not very healthy at all.
  • My uncle, who is a farmer, lives in the countryside.

I think my explanation about the point above is enough. If you have a question about the grammar rule I have just explained just now, you can write a comment in the comment form below. I will feel happy to answer your question or may be if you have suggestion or correction about it, you can also write a comment.

Reference :
English Course Book of EECC Kudus (translated)

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