Relative clauses

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término English
definición English

Relative pronouns and relative clauses
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A relative clause (e.g. who comes from Bristol) begins with a relative pronoun (e.g. who, that). A relative clause comes after a noun phrase (e.g. the boy, the sport)

The boy who comes from Bristol won the game. The sport that I like watching is tennis.
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Most relative clauses are defining clauses, e.g. who comes from Bristol (without commas).

Peter Oates, who comes from Bristol, won the game. The first game, which went on for a long time, wasn't very exciting.
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Some relative clauses are non-defining clauses, e.g. who comes from Bristol (with commas)

The relative pronouns who and which
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who and which are relative pronouns. We use who with people and which with things.

The girl who works at the café is Martin's sister. Is that the café which stays open till ten?
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who and which can be the subject of a relative clause (The girl works at the café. The café stays open till ten)

Martin's is the man who we saw yesterday. Did you see the motor-bike which he bought for £20?
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who and which can be the object of the relative clause (We saw the man yesterday. He bought the motor-bike for £20.)

The relative pronoun "that"
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We can use the relative pronoun "that" instead of "who" or "which"

Is this the train that stops at Shenfield? Here's the newspaper that I found on the seat.
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We mostly use "that" to talk about things.

Do you know the man that sat next to us yesterday? The woman that you helped is our neighbour.
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We sometimes use "that" to talk about people, but we use "who" much more often.

Relative clauses without a pronoun: leaving out "who", "whitch" or "that"
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We can leave out "who", "which" or "that"

Martin is the man who we saw yesterday. Martin is the man we saw yesterday.
Did you see the motor-bike which he bought for £20? Did you see the motor-bike he bought for £20?
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when it is the object of a relative clause (You saw the man yesterday. He bought the motor-bike for £20.)

His sister works in the café that we went to. His sister works in the café we went to.
we cannot leave out "who", "which" or "that" when it is the subject of a relative clause.
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when there is a preposition (We went to the café)

Prepositions in relative clauses
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In a relative clause we put a preposition in the same place as in a main clause. We do not usually put it before the relative pronoun.

A girl who I used to go out with lives near here.
I used to go out with a girl.
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We can use a preposition in a relative clause with "who" or "which"

Here's the map that you were looking for.
You were looking for the map.
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We can use a preposition in a relative clause with "that"

The article you were talking about earlier is in this magazine.
You were talking about the article.
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We can use a preposition in a relative clause without a pronoun

The relative pronoun "whom"
"whom" is more formal than "who" and is not used in spoken English.
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We use "who" and "whom" to talk about people.

The woman who they interviewed yesterday has been given the job. The woman whom they interviewed yesterday has been given the job.
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We can use "whom" instead of "who" when it is the object of the relative clause. (They interviewed the woman yesterday).

The people who we stayed with are old friends. The people whom we stayed with are old friends.
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We can use "whom" instead of "who" when there is a preposition (We stayed with some old friends.)


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