who – whom – whose – that – which – where

  • We use who for a person, and which for a thing or an idea.
  • We use that for both a person and a thing/idea.
  • Whose is a possessive pronoun.
  • When who is the object, whom, with a preposition, can be used instead, but it is formal and rather old-fashioned.
    In modern speech, we use who, or we leave out the pronoun.
  • Where (relative adverb) refers to places.

Examples of use :

  • I know a woman. She speaks 6 languages.              »   I know a woman who speaks 6 languages.
  • I know a woman. Her husband speaks 6 languages. » I know a woman whose husband speaks 6 languages.
  • I spoke to a person yesterday.                                » The person to whom I spoke yesterday (formal)
    »   The person (who) I spoke to yesterday
  • I live in a house.  It’s 200 years old.                         »    I live in a house which is 200 years old.
  • That’s the hotel.  We stayed there last year.            »    That’s the hotel where we stayed last year.
    That’s the hotel that we stayed in last year.

When can we omit relative pronouns?

  • Compare :
    – The woman who wanted to see me was a doctor.
    – The woman (that) I wanted to see was a doctor.
  • Relative pronouns can be omitted in the following cases :
  1. When they are the object of relative clauses (as above) ex : – The candidate (that) I interviewed was from Japan.
  2. In reported speech : ex : – He said (that) Mr. Bell had invented the telephone.
  3. After adjectives : ex : – I’m glad (that) you came. – She was surprised (that) he noticed.
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