A relative is someone who has a relationship with you. Relative pronouns show a relationship between clauses. They join dependent clauses to main clauses.
Look familiar? They are also interrogative and demonstrative pronouns. In order to tell the difference, you must analyze how they are being used.
Interrogative:Who is that man in the photograph? (Who = Juan – but we don't know his name. That's why it's interrogative.)
Relative:Juan is the man who works in the mall. (Juan = man working in the mall)
The relative pronouns show a relationship between two clauses. They act like conjunctions. In the above sentences, who replaces the noun in the first sentence and relates Juan and the man working in the mall.
Interrogative:Whom did you ask about the movie times? (Whom = Dave)
Relative:Where is the person whom you asked about tickets? (Whom = person you asked)
Demonstrative:That is the book I found. (That = the book Little Women)
Relative:I found the book that you lost. (book I found = book you lost)
Who, whom, and whose relate to people (or pets if you refer to them by name). Which is used with objects. That is preferably used only with objects, but you will see it used with people. Try to get in the habit of using who with people instead of that. It is more polite.
Practice What You've Learned
Choose the correct relative pronoun to complete each sentence.
My uncle Jeff is the man found that arrow head. who,that
Have you found a store sells the right kind of binders? that,who
Lisa is a person you can trust. whom,that
A cheetah, is the fastest cat, is smaller than a lion. who,which
For the party, we need several games require few materials. who,that
We watched the videos Maria had taken in Alaska. that,whose
Those students essays got As don't need to rewrite them. whose,who
My favorite author is the one won many awards. who,that
We went to the beach I used to visit when I was little. that,who
We fixed the fireplace has not worked in years. which,who
Identify each pronoun in bold as relative, interrogative, or demonstrative.
Which book should I bring to English? relative/interrogative
I want to meet the person who invented these potato chips. relative/interrogative
The question that I have is whether or not we are finished. relative/interrogative
Should I bring that to class tomorrow? relative/demonstrative
If I find it, to whom should I give it? relative/interrogative
The enemy that the British fought were the Germans. relative/demonstrative
The man who invented the computer mouse died in 2013. relative/interrogative
Robert Frost is a poet whom I greatly admire. relative/interrogative
Where is the pencil that I dropped? relative/demonstrative
Which of these books should I read first? relative/interrogative