G5: Using Relative Pronouns and Clauses

LEARNING OBJECTIVES

  1. Recognize noun and adjective clauses that begin with relative pronouns.
  2. Use appropriate relative pronouns in noun and adjective clauses.

Noun clauses can serve as subjects or objects and often begin with one of these relative pronouns: that, what, whatever, which, whichever, who, whoever, whom, whomever, whose. Logically, you should use subjective case pronouns in noun clauses that function as subjects and objective case pronouns in noun clauses that function as objects.

The following video explains the concept of relative pronouns in more depth:

Relative pronouns | The parts of speech | Grammar | Khan Academy

Examples

Subjective Case Example:

Joshua Tree National Park, which is in California, is named after a tree that is actually a member of the lily family.

Objective Case Example:

A Joshua tree looks like neither its relative, the lily, nor the biblical figure, Joshua, whom the tree is said to be named after.

Adjective clauses modify nouns and pronouns that usually immediately precede the clauses. Adjective clauses often begin with these relative pronouns: that, which, who, whom, whose. Adjective clauses contain a subject, usually a relative pronoun, and a predicate, the verb following the relative pronoun.

Here’s a video that explains what an adjective clause is in more depth:

“What is an adjective clause? I’ll show you!” Created by Grammar Revolution, License: All Rights Reserved. License Terms: Standard YouTube License ©
Adjective Clause Example:

The Mohave and the Colorado are the two deserts that meet in Joshua Tree National Park. If you guessed that the adjective clause was “that meet in Joshua Tree National Park,” then you are right. That is the subject. Meet is the verb.

Often adjective clauses leave the relative pronoun implied, as in the following example: I couldn’t get the stain out of the pants (that) I wore to the party.

Back to: Grammar and Sentence Construction Handbook > Unit 3: Grammar