Correct use of the relative pronouns

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Who, whom and whose

The pronouns who, whom and whose are generally only used for persons. Occasionally they are used for some animals and other inanimate objects too.


Which is used for animals and inanimate things.

Which is also used to refer to a previous statement.


That is used for persons and things.

Note that the relative pronoun that is used only in identifying relative clauses. In this respect it is different from who and which, as these can be used also in non-identifying relative clauses which merely give some information about the antecedent.

Another difference between that and who, which, is that while who and which can be used in the possessive case (whose, of which) and with prepositions (of whom, to whom, by which etc.) that cannot be used so.

You cannot substitute that for of whom, whose or with which in these sentences.


What is used only to refer to things and not persons. When used as a relative pronoun what means that which.


As is used as a relative pronoun after such, and sometimes after the same.


After a negative, the word but is used as a relative pronoun in the sense of who...not or which...not.

See also

Adjective clauses
Relative clauses
Relative pronouns
Identifying relative clauses
Omission of relative pronouns
Adverb clauses
Noun clauses
Synthesis of sentences
Transformation of sentences
The adverb too