Relative Pronouns

relative pronoun "relates" a relative clause to the rest of the sentence.
There are five relative pronouns: that, which, who, whom, and whose.

Who and whom refers to people.
Which refers to things, qualities, and ideas (never people).
That and whose refers to people, things, qualities, and ideas.

"In general, the relative pronouns that begin with the letters wh- are considered to be more literate.  In contrast the pronoun that ...  [has] a more colloquial flavor and [is] preferred in conversation."
     (Douglas Biber, Susan Conrad, and Geoffrey Leech, Longman Student Grammar of Spoken and Written English. Pearson, 2002)

Click here for a link that provides some good examples showing the use of relative pronouns.

Common Core Standard
4th Grade: L1a:   Use relative pronouns (who, whose, whom, which, that) and relative adverbs (where, when, why).


  1. Mentor Text:
    "Mrs. Phillips owned two things that she really cared about. One was the picture of her husband, who'd been killed in World War II, and the other was her mother's pearl circle pin."
    - - Elizabeth Winthrop The Castle in the Attic

  2. Mentor Text:
    "His rat soul longed inexplicably for [illumination]; he began to think that light was the only thing that gave life meaning, and he despaired that there was so little of it to be had."
    -- Kate DiCamillo The Tale of Despereaux


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