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ESL Lesson: Relative Pronoun

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The story I am about to tell you contains lots of examples of the "Relative Pronoun". Before you read it, look through the following notes:

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  1. Relative pronouns do two jobs at once:
    a) acting as subject or object of a verb
    b) joining two clauses together
  2. The most common are: who, whom, which and thatwho and whom for people and which for things.
  3. Whom is not used much in conversation and refers to an object of a verb or a preposition.
  4. That can often replace whom, who and which.
  5. After nouns referring to times and places, when and where can be used to mean at which or in which and why can be used to mean for which.
  6. Whose is a possessive relative word, referring to people and things.


  1. Defining and non-defining relative clauses
    "George, who lives next door, always watches television."
    "The couple who live next door always watch television.»
  2. That
    a) For people and things and in conversation.
    b) After the following: all, everything, something, anything, nothing, none, little, few, much.
    c) After superlatives.
  3. In defining relative clauses the relative pronoun is often left out if it is the object of the verb.
  4. Prepositions can come before the relative pronoun or at the end of the clause but you cannot use that or who after a preposition.
  5. In a non-defining relative clause that cannot be used and object relative pronouns cannot be left out.
  6. Sentence Relative
    "He showed me a photo that upset me."
    "He tore up the photo, which upset me."
  7. Relative and infinitive
    "He was unhappy unless he had someone with whom to argue."
  8. Whose can refer to people or things and can be the subject of a clause, the object of a verb or the object of a preposition.
  9. Instead of whose, of which can be used.
  10. What
    "I gave her the money that she needed."
    "I gave her what she wanted."

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Author: Alan Townend

English Grammar through Stories (PDF)
English Grammar through Stories could be your saviour — it shows you a completely new way of learning. Forget about old-fashioned text books with difficult explanations and boring sample sentences. You can improve your grammar very fast if you know how. The answer is a few clicks away: Read these unique short stories by Alan Townend and absorb the patterns of English grammar automatically. You can only learn if you enjoy what you are doing. You will love the funny characters in English Grammar through Stories because they show the strengths and weaknesses of human nature. On top of all that, each story concentrates on one particular grammar item so all you have to do is read the book and have fun. You will be amazed at how easily you can improve your grammar.

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