Relative words

English grammar (See all)

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Relative words

To introduce a subordinate with the words 'who', 'what', 'which', 'where'...:

WHO / WHOSE / WHOM refers to people and sometimes animals (who, that, which):
The lady who came yesterday was very polite.
Our C.E.O., whose father was a dentist, has a nice smile.
My sister Michelle, whom you met last Saturday, has been married twice already.

WHAT and WHICH refer to things or ideas:
His commitment to the company, which has always been noticed, has diminished considerably over the last few weeks.
The chalet, which I told you about last week, is not for sale anymore.
The iceberg was what impressed me most.
She doesn't know what to do.

Note: WHICH can also refer to people, when a choice is being introduced:
I don't remember which (one) of them I met first.

WHERE and WHEN respectively introduce a notion of place ('where') and time ('when'):
Meet me at the restaurant where I proposed to you.
So this is what it sounds like when doves cry. (Prince song)

THAT can refer to a thing or a person. It can even be left out and the meaning can be inferred:
I have lost all the CDs (that) I bought last week.
The dress (that) she is wearing is a nice color.
The man (that) we saw is my boss.


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