Relative Clauses

In English there are two types of relative clauses.

Relative pronouns





a) Subject




b) Object




c) Possessive




In both types of the relative clauses we use relative pronouns.

Let's analyze each row:


  • Mike, who/that likes sailing, [...]
  • "Mike" is a person.
  • There are many pets which/that are sensitive when their feet are touched.
  • "Pet" is a thing.


who/whom, which and where can be used.

  • That's the man who / whom / that I saw on TV.
  • "The man" is a person.
  • That's the cat which / that I saw on TV.
  • "The cat" is a thing.
  • Los Angeles, where I was born, will host [...]
  • "Los Angeles" is a place.


Remember: whom is used in formal writing.



To show possession whose is used.

  • That's the man whose car was stolen.
  • "The man" is a person.

Relative Defining Clauses

  • People who stutter usually have more difficulty controlling their speech on the telephone
  • Most countries which produce and export oil are member of OPEC.
  • The man who I told you about the other day is here.

The information in these clauses is essential. It tells us details that are necessary for the sentence to be logically and grammatically correct.

Defining relative clauses are never separated from the rest of the sentence by commas.

Relative Non-Defining Clauses

  • Our English teacher, who graduated from Stanford in 1960, didn't know the answer either.
  • My neighbour, whose car was stolen yesterday, is going to London.

Relative non-defining clauses are the opposite. We can remove the information between the commas and the sentence will still be completely correct and understandable.