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Relative pronouns

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Relative pronouns are used to link two statements about a person or thing.

Relative pronouns as subjects of the verb.

I know the girl. She lives next door to you.
I know the girl who lives next door to you.

This is the shop. I bought my laptop from there.
This is the shop which I bought my laptop from.

The relative pronouns are:
Who, that, which, whose, and whom.

We use who to refer to people but not things. It is the subject of the verb that follows it.
People who live in warm countries hate winter.
Do you know the family who lives opposite the post office?

We use which to refer to things but not people. It is the subject of the verb that follows it.
This is the camera which takes panoramic photos.
I love the painting which is in the living room.

That is used to refer to people and things and it can replace who or which in all the sentences above.

Relative pronouns as objects of the verb

In some sentences the relative pronoun is the object of the verb ( it is not followed by a verb). In this situation it can be left out. Most native speakers tend to omit the relative pronoun in this situation.
These are the shoes. I bought them from Italy.
These are the shoes which/that I bought from Italy.
These are the shoes I bought from Italy.

Lesson by Tristan, English teacher at EC Malta English school

Decide which relative pronoun should go in the following:
(who/that, which/that or – no pronoun)

  • 1) That's the man __ helped me change my flat tyre.

  • 2) The politician __ was accused of corruption was arrested yesterday.

  • 3) I can't find the recipe __ you gave me last week.

  • 4) That's the actor __ we saw performing in London.

  • 5) People __ live near the sea are usually excellent swimmers.

  • 6) Peter said he met a girl __ can speak more than five languages.

  • 7) Art is a subject __ most people know very little about.