Rules for Relative Pronoun

Rules for Relative Pronoun

Rules for Relative Pronoun are quite simple if you understand the difference between the usage of different Relative Pronouns.

To start off with, let’s discuss what Relative Pronouns are?

Relative Pronouns are words that one can use to join a dependent clause (first clause) with an independent clause in a sentence. That is to say these words help to refer to the noun that we use in the beginning through pronouns

The most commonly used relative pronouns are: Who, whom, that, which, what, why etc.

Rules for Relative Pronoun

Rules for Relative Pronoun

To understand the Rules of Relative Pronouns let us start with the types and their definition.

1. WHO

Use relative pronoun ‘WHO’ to denote the subject of the verb. We use ‘who’ to refer to people only.

For Example:

The man who bought the house is the founder of a reputed MNC.

Here, the subject is ‘the man’ and the verb is bought. So to connect the noun with the verb we use the pronoun ‘WHO’.


“WHOM’ refers to the object of the verb in a sentence which means that he/she is the receiver of the action

For Example:

Arvind is the boy whom I had met in the store yesterday.

here, ‘I’ is the subject who met Arvind (the object) in a store. So to refer to Arvind in the sentence, we use ‘whom’.


‘THAT’ in English grammar as a relative pronoun refers to a person, animal, or thing. Use ‘That’ to combine a restrictive clause with the main dependent clause. A restrictive clause is one without which the sentence would be incomplete.

For Example:

Roshni ordered the drink that has the best review in this cafe

Here, ‘has the best review’ is a restrictive clause which means that without this clause the dependent clause ‘Roshni ordered the drink’ would not be complete. Hence to show the relation between the two we use ‘THAT’.


‘WHICH’ is the relative pronoun that refers to only animals and things. Unlike ‘that’, we use ‘WHICH’ with a non-restrictive clause which means that without using the second clause, the first clause will make complete sense. ‘Which’ comes into use only for subjects that are unique.

For Example:

The Bermuda Triangle, which I find very fascinating, is also known as the Devil’s Triangle.

Here, ‘I find very fascinating’ is a non-restrictive clause without which the sentence is complete. Hence we use ‘which’ to connect the two dependent clauses.


‘WHAT’ as a relative pronoun is used to address a nonliving thing. We generally use ‘What’ in a sentence where the main topic of conversation is unknown and either asks a question or states an answer.

For Example:

Did you understand what she just explained? / I can’t decide what to get her a birthday present

Here, what is used to refer to the subject that the third person had explained and is unknown to us. Hence, we use what in the question form.


‘WHOSE’ is kind of a possessive pronoun that reflects possession of something by the subject of the verb.

For Example:

The woman whose purse was lost in the bus went to the police station to file a complaint.

Here, we see that the object ‘the purse’ belonged to the subject of the sentence ‘the woman’. Hence we use the possessive pronoun to reflect possession.

Compound Relative Pronouns

Compound Relative Pronoun is a term used for people, objects or animals that is universally referred to any number of subjects / objects.

Some of the Compound Relative Pronoun are:

  • Whoever
  • Whomever
  • Whichever
  • Whatever

Example for each of the types are:


  • Whoever comes first will be given a trophy
  • It is the responsibility of whoever wakes up first to pump the water
  • There is no sign of roll number 20, whoever it is.


  • Whomever you ask to help, make sure they arrive on time
  • I will be fine whomever you hire for the post
  • Feel free to bring whomever you want with you


  • I will protect whichever place you live in
  • I will be very excited whichever bike you purchase
  • Whichever game you choose to play, I will play along


  • Do not believer whatever she says blindly
  • Do whatever you want to but I will not go out with you
  • I will get you whatever you love for Christmas

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