Relative pronouns relate
From A New English Grammar for Schools, by Thomas Harvey and Elementary Lessons in English by Nelly Lloyd Knox-Heath
They are: who (whose, whom), which, that, as.
I. A relative pronoun joins to its antecedent a subordinate clause that relates something about the person or thing represented by the antecedent.
The man whom you saw is my father.
1. The word “relative” comes from the Latin verb “fero”, from which we get our verb “refer.”
2. One of the meanings of “relative” is “to bring back;” another meaning is “to tell over.”
II. A relative pronoun is always found in an adjective clause.
Laws which are unjust should be repealed.
1. A relative pronoun connects an adjective clause to the noun or pronoun that the clause modifies.
2. In the sentence above, the subordinate adjective clause “which are unjust” is connected by the relative pronoun “which” to the antecedent of the clause, which is “laws.”
III. Place the relative pronoun adjective clause as near as possible to the noun or pronoun which it modifies; thus,
On either side are pavements for pedestrians that are from six to eight feet wide,
should be instead,
On either side are pavements that are from six to eight feet wide for pedestrians.
Who, used to refer to persons;
Which, used to refer to animals and things;
That, used to refer to persons, animals, and things; and
As, used to take the place of who, which, or that, after the words such, much, many, and same.
Whoever, whoso, and whosoever, are equivalent to he who, or any one who; as,
Whoever studies will learn.
(i.e. Any one who studies will learn.)
Whichever and whichsoever are equivalent to any which; as,
Whichever way you may take will lead to the city.
(i.e. Any way which you may take will lead to the city.)
Whatever and whatsoever are equivalent to any thing which; as,
I am pleased with whatever you may do.
(i.e. I am pleased with any thing which you may do.)
Order of parsing relative pronouns
1. Is it a pronoun, and why?
2. Is it relative, and why?
3. Name its antecedent.
4. Simple or compound?
5. Gender, person, and number?
Models for parsing
A man who is industrious will prosper
“Who” is a pronoun; relative because it represents a preceding word or phrase, to which it joins a adjective clause; its antecedent is “man”: simple: masculine gender, third person, singular number, to agree with its antecedent: nominative case; it is used as the subject of the subordinate adjective clause, “who is industrious.”
The horse which you sold me is lame.
“Which” is a pronoun; relative; its antecedent is “horse”: simple: masculine gender, third person, singular number: objective case; it is the object of the verb “sold.”
The boy closed the shutters, which darkened the room.
“Which” is a pronoun; relative; its antecedent is the independent clause, “the boy closed the shutters.”
Whoever studies will learn.
“Whoever” is a pronoun; relative; compound; it is equivalent to he who, or any one who — “he” being the antecedent part, and “who” the relative. Parse “he” as a personal pronoun, subject of “will learn,” or “one” as a “pronominal adjective used as a noun,” subject of “will learn,” and “who” as a relative, by preceding models.
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