Relative pronouns

A relative pronoun is a pronoun that begins a relative clause within a larger sentence. It is called a relative pronoun because it relates the relative (subordinate) clause to the noun that it modifies. The most commonly used relative pronouns are: who, whom, whose, which and that.

SubjectObject Possessive
whowho/whomwhose
whichwhichwhose
thatthat 

Who is used for people and if the subject of the verb.

Example of using the word who as a subject of the verb.
Example of the word 'who' being used as the subject of the verb
Example of the word who as the subject of the verb
Example of the word who as the subject of the verb

Sometimes the relative pronoun can be omitted, especially in spoken or informal contexts.

Example of a relative pronoun
Example of a relative pronoun

Whom is used for people and is the object of the verb. However, it is becoming common to use who as an object or to omit the relative pronoun altogether.

Example of the word whom being used as the object of the verb
Example of the word whom being used as the object of the verb

This sentence could also be: This is Mai, who you met last year.

Whom is used as the object of a preposition (when it comes after the preposition).

Example of the word whom used as the object of a preposition
Example of the word whom used as the object of a preposition

These sentences could also be:

  • Who did you give the book to?
  • That is a picture of my grandfather, who I inherited the farm from.
  • Which is used for animals and objects. It is becoming common to use that instead of which.
  • Whose is the possessive form of the relative pronoun.
Example of the words which and that being used as the object of a preposition
Example of the words which and that being used as the object of a preposition.

Activities to support the strategy

Activity 1

Lord Syntax and Pronouns 4 www.youtube.com

Watch the youtube clip and unpack the information with students. Students can be placed in small groups and can be assigned various parts to gather information on usage and then share with whole group using examples.

Activity 2

Pronoun song from Grammaropolis – “I got the Blues” www.youtube.com

This is an amusing “song” which will shed light on the common problem that many students have when writing and or when retelling stories, which is; introducing the pronoun without having used the antecedent noun. Discussion can focus on how this leads to confusion in meaning.

Activity 3

Online Quizzes – Students can practice the various online quizzes in pairs to generate discussion regarding correct usage.

Online Quizzes – Students can practice the various online quizzes in pairs to generate discussion regarding correct usage.

Online resources

References

Australian curriculum reference

ACELA1508: Understand how noun groups/phrases and adjective groups/phrases can be expanded in a variety of ways to provide a fuller description of the person, place, thing or idea. ACELA1520: Understand that cohesive links can be made in texts by omitting or replacing words

NSW syllabus reference

EN3-6B: Uses knowledge of sentence structure, grammar, punctuation and vocabulary to respond to and compose clear and cohesive texts in different media and te

NSW literacy continuum reference

WRIC11M2: Aspects of writing, Cluster 11, Marker 2: Deliberately structures language in a way that creates more cohesive imaginative, informative and persuasive texts.

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