English Grammar Lesson – Relative Clauses Using That & Which

Michael Grammar 1 Comment

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Today, I want to continue our talk about relative clauses in English and introduce the relative pronouns , that & which.

That can be used as a subject pronoun. In a relative clause you can use who + verb or that + verb like this:

  • The woman who lives next door speaks French and Spanish.
  • The woman that lives next door speaks French and Spanish.
  • The teacher who taught me the piano was a nice guy.
  • The teacher that taught me the piano was a nice guy.

Likewise, that can be used as an object pronoun. In a relative clause you can use whom + subject + verb (as we did yesterday) or that + subject + verb like this:

  • The woman whom we saw at the park was feeding the birds.
  • The woman that we saw at the park was feeding the birds.
  • The man whom I met at the party is such a nice guy.
  • The man that I met at the party is such a nice guy.

As well, in informal English, who is generally used as an object pronoun. These days in American English, whom is considered to be quite a formal word:

  • The woman who we saw at the park was feeding the birds.
  • The man who I met at the party is such a nice guy.

Yesterday, we saw that who and whom refer to people. Which is used in an adjective clause to talk about things. In a relative clause use which + verb, like this:

  • The meeting which was scheduled for Friday has been moved to Monday.
  • The server which hosts this website is powered by wind energy.
  • The subway which goes uptown stops near my office.

In a similar way, which can be used as an object pronoun. Use which + subject + verb like this:

  • The office which Joe rented is really nice.
  • The laptop which I bought last year still works great.
  • The tree which we planted last year grew very quickly this summer.

Lastly, that can also be used in place of which in an adjective clause, as both a subject and an object:

  • The meeting that was scheduled for Friday has been moved to Monday.
  • The server that hosts this website is powered by wind energy.
  • The office that Joe rented is really nice.
  • The laptop that I bought last year still works great.

So, let’s summarize the rules we’ve learned about adjective clauses so far. You can use who and whom for people, which for things, and that for people and things. That’s the basic idea of adjective clauses. Now, it’s your turn. How about trying your own original sentences using the comment box below!

If you know anyone who might be interested in this English language point, why not help them out! Just share this lesson with them. Thanks for studying today!

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