Relative Pronouns (A lesson for my ESL Students)
There are three (3) “Relative Pronouns” in English–THAT, WHICH, WHO. Their job is to come after a noun and introduce more information about that object. Basically, they answer the question “What _____? I need more information please!”
Especially helpful if you need more information in order to correctly identify that specific object from a group of similar items.
- THAT – is used for things and people. “Tom is the man that is going to teach you.” (Tom is the man. What man? – more information please. The man going to teach you.)
- WHICH – is used only for things. “Here is the car which I used to pick you up.” (This is the car. What car? – more information please. The car I used to pick you up.)
- WHO – is used only for people. “Mary is the woman who helped me study for the test.” (Mary is the woman. What woman? – more information please.She helped me study for the test.)
We are at the airport, and I say “Go get the car.” But you don’t know my car, you have never seen my car. How do you pick my car from a group of cars?
Well, I could have given you more information about the car using “Relative Pronouns.”
Since “Car” is a thing, I could use either “that” or “which.”
- “Go get the car that is on the right side of the parking lot.”
- “Go get the car which is green and parked close to the building.”
Both of these would give you more information so you can pick the correct car.