Relative clauses are a type of complexsentence. They are used to give additionalinformation about an element. Thisinformation helps us to identify thatelement. We use relative pronouns thatperform a double function: they areconnectors and they are the subject or theobject of one of the clases in the complexsentence.
DEFINING RELATIVE CLAUSESThis type of relative clause is used when the information provided is necessary to identify the antecedent to which we are referring:That’s the woman who wants to buy the carThis is the desk that our teachers useI met the neighbour whose office was burnt downThank you very much for the money that you lent my sonThe car in which we were didn’t have airbags
WHO, WHICH (or THAT) as subjectsIn general, we use WHO for people and WHICH for things, animals, machines, etc. Both can be substituted by THAT:I’m looking after some children who/that are really naughtyRonald is a very quiet boy who/ that doesn’t like arguingI dislike people who/ that are always telling you what to doShe was reading a book which/ that has become a best-sellerThey switched on the lamp which/ that was nearest to themWe stayed in a room which/ that was cosy and colourful
WHO(M)/WHICH/THAT as objectsThe relative pronoun can be the object of the sentence. In this case, it is possible to omit the relative pronoun:He introduced me to the woman who/that I would marry two years later (or “He introduced me to the woman I would …”)She is the kind of person who/ that all the people like (or “She is the kind of person all the people like)(“Whom” might also be used but it sounds very formal)A dictionary is a book which/ that you use to look words up (or “A dictionary is a book you use to …”)I bought the CD which/ that the band had recently released (or “I bought the CD the band had recently released”
Relatives with prepositionsWhen we need to use a preposition, we have two possible ways:The boy with whom I had an argument apologized afterwardsThe boy (who/that) I had an argument with apologized afterwardsThe music to which you were listening was composed by MozartThe music (which/that) you were listening to was composed by Mozart
Non-defining relative clauses This type of relative clause is used when the information provided is not necessary to identify the antecedent to which we are referring. We can only use WHO/ WHICH and it is not possible to omit the relative pronoun.The relative pronous work as subjects or objects, like in defining relative clauses:President Obama, who was re-elected some weeks ago, wants to change some policies about immigration (SUBJECT)The NATO, which was created during the Cold War, has members all over the world (SUBJECT)
Fernando Alonso, who(m) many people admire, haswon two F-1 championships (OBJECT)Oxford University, which they are planning to enlarge,is one of the oldest in Europe (OBJECT)My cousin Frederick, with whom I share someproperties in the city centre, is thinking of opening newoffices abroad. (WITH PREPOSITION)Dubai’s Burj-el-Arab skyscraper, from which you canview the “Palm Tree islands”, is an astonishing building(WITH PREPOSITION)This type of relative clause (“non-defining”) is mainlyused in written and/or formal English
WHOSE“Whose” is used as a possessive relative. It is used to refer to people and (in informal English) to things, machines, etc.She listened to the artist whose paintings were at the exhibitionAntonio Banderas, whose wife used to work in Hollywood as an actress, has become an ambassador of the Spanish cultureThey were demolishing some houses whose foundations had ben affected by the earthquake>Avila, whose walls are among the best touristic attractions in our region, is famous for its delicious beef meat.
WHICH referring to a whole sentence“Which” can be used to refer not to just one word but to a whole idea:I like listening to loud music, which annoys my family (my family is annoyed by the fact that I like listening to loud music)Flexpetz rents dogs as pets, which some people critisize(It’s the whole idea of “renting dogs” that is critisized)
WHAT, WHERE, WHEN in relative clausesIn this sort of sentences, “what” means “the thing(s) that”:Do what I tell you and don’t do what I doListen to what I have to tell you and don’t interrupt me“Where” is used to refer to places and “when” to time:She studied in the town where Shakespeare was bornStrattford-Upon-Avon, where Shakespeare was born, is visited by thousands of people every yearI remember the days when my father took me to school.They went to London in June 2012, when the Olympic Games were taking place.