A relative pronoun is a type of pronoun that we use to join together two clauses to form a longer sentence. Relative pronouns are words such as that, which, who, whom, whose, whatever, whichever, whoever, whomever, whosoever, etc.
Joining two clauses using relative pronouns who and that
- The man is a visitor of a patient. He is dressed like a doctor.
- The man who is dressed like a doctor is a visitor.
Who in the example above is used as it refers to a man. The noun man is the antecedent of who.
- She bought a pair of running shoes. She could use it for jogging.
- She bought a pair of running shoes that she could use for jogging.
That in the relative clause is used to replace the shoes which is the antecedent of the relative pronoun that.
A relative pronoun comes at the beginning of a relative clause. This subordinate clause comes immediately after the noun in the main clause.
- I know the dog that bit my cat.
In this sentence, the relative pronoun is that and it introduces the relative clause that bit my cat. I know the dog is the main clause. The relative clause tells us more about the noun dog in the main clause.
We use that and which in almost the same way as we use who, but they refer to animals and things, not people. There is a difference in using which and who. After which, we can use a verb, a pronoun or a noun. After who, we usually use a verb.
- That was the camera, which cost five hundred dollars. (Before verb cost)
- That was the camera, which he (Before pronoun he)
- That was the camera, which John (Before noun John)
The relative pronouns who and whom are used for people, and whose for people and things. We can use who to join two sentences. We can use who to join two sentences.
- Who lives in that haunted castle?
- That is the man, who is my father's best friend.
In the last sentence, who refers to man which is a noun in the main clause, and it begins the relative clause who is my father’s best friend.
Whose is used to show possession or relationship for both people and things.
- That is my uncle whose wife has run away with his twin brother.
- The door whose knob has come out needs a new one.
Whom is used to make a statement about human beings. It is used in place of who when it is the object of a verb or when it comes after a preposition or is an object of a preposition.
- The man whom they caught was handed to the police. (Object of a verb)
- The man to whom you should speak is the manager. (Object of a preposition/after a preposition)
Whosoever is hardly used nowadays. It has about the same meaning as whoever.