Relative Clauses Part Two: How to use Who, Whom, & Whose

When writing relative (adjective) clauses, students often are confused about when to use who, whom, and whose.

Look at the following examples to understand the difference between them.

yoga man
Example One:

The man at whom we are looking is doing yoga.

People who do yoga are flexible.

The man whose body is bent like a pretzel is extremely flexible!


The relative pronoun “whom” replaces a human object. We rarely use this pronoun any more unless it follows a preposition

  • We are looking at the man.  We are looking at him. The man is doing yoga.
  • The man at whom we are looking is doing yoga.

The relative pronoun “who” replaces a human subject.

  • People do yoga. People are flexible.
  • People who do yoga are flexible.

Whose” replaces a possessive adjective. It is used along with a subject noun.  It shows that the noun subject in the adjective clause belongs to the noun that precedes the adjective clause.  It can be used for a person OR a thing.

  • The man is extremely flexible. His body is bent like a pretzel.
  • The man whose body is bent like a pretzel is extremely flexible.


sinky bed

Example Two:
The child at whom we are looking has sunk into her mattress.

She shouldn’t sleep in a bed whose mattress is so soft!

She needs to find someone who can rescue her from her mattress!

 

Notice how the relative clause always follows directly after the noun it describes.

  • The child has sunk into her mattress.  We are looking at her.
    • The child at whom we are looking has sunk into her mattress.
    • Which child? The child at whom we are looking.
  • She shouldn’t sleep in a bed.  Its mattress is so soft!
    • She shouldn’t sleep in a bed whose mattress is so soft!
    • Which bed? The one whose mattress is so soft.
  • She needs to find someone. This someone can rescue her from her mattress!
    • She needs to find someone who can rescue her from her mattress.
    • Which someone?  The one who can rescue her.

 

Your turn now. Write three sentences about the picture below.  In each sentence, include a relative clause.  Start one relative clause with “who,” one with “preposition + whom,” and one with “whose + noun.”  (Answers below)
awesome treehouse
Possible Answers:

The person who built this treehouse is a genius.  The person who built this must be a great dad.

The children who play in this treehouse are very lucky.

The children for whom it was built must feel so happy.

The children with whom they play are probably jealous of them.

The treehouse, whose windows and railings are covered in lights, looks beautiful.

The treehouse, whose owners must be very wealthy, has many rooms.

 

 

 

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