Relatives

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Grammar notes: relative clauses

Definition A relative clause is a part of a sentence beginning with a relative pronoun (although this pronoun can be omitted in certain cases). For example: The company where I worked is called International Enterprises Plc. The man who went into the baker's bought a loaf of bread. My sister, who lives near London, is coming to visit me soon. Basic relative pronouns The relative pronoun you use depends on the thing you're talking about. Generally speaking, the most basic ones are these:

for people for things for places for reasons for times

who/that which/that where why when

Who, which and that cannot be used indiscriminately. That can only be used in defining relative clauses. Trickier relative pronouns Four relative pronouns often seem to confuse people, but they're easy to use too. WHICH This can be used to refer to the whole part of the sentence that went before. Usually a pronoun refers to a noun, but this refers to more. For example: I've broken my leg, which means I can't walk. I've still got some money left, which is surprising. WHOM This is hardly ever used in spoken English, and not often in written English. It sounds very formal to most people. If you're going to use it at all, then only use it after prepositions. Even so, there's usually another less formal way to say the same thing. For example: The woman to whom he was talking is his sister. The woman that he was talking to is his sister.

WHOSE This is used to show possession. It means basically 'of who(m)'. It can always be used for people and animals, but also for things, though this sometimes sounds strange and it might be better to change the structure of the sentence unless the thing is made up of people (a team, a city, an organisation). For example: My students, whose homework is never done, will fail the exam. The homework belongs to the students,…...

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