Notice the italicized pronouns in the following sentences: Jim Smith, the teenager who won the triathlon last week also won the Spelling Bee on Sunday night. The trophies which were awarded to him have been photographed, and the picture placed with other teams and trophies that showcase the school's successes each
These are called relative pronouns
. A relative pronoun relates a subordinate clause to an antecedent noun or pronoun in another clause.
In the first sentence the pronoun who
relates the dependent clause, who won the triathlon last week,
to its antecedent, the noun teenager,
subject of the independent clause.
In the second sentence the pronoun which
relates the dependent clause, which were awarded to him,
to the antecedent, trophies.
Also in the second
sentence the pronoun that
relates the dependent clause, that showcase the school's successes each year
, to the antecedents, teams and trophies. Here is how we can distinguish the use of these relative pronouns
should always refer to persons; Which
should always refer to animals or things; That
may refer to persons, animals, or things. Who
is the only one of the relative pronouns that can be inflected
for number and case.
You may also use whose
as the possessive of which