Relative Clauses Part One: Relative Pronouns Can Replace Both Subjects and Objects 

Juggling relative pronouns is tricky.

What kind of word are they replacing? What do they mean? What are they doing in the sentence? Where do I put them? Let’s take a look.

juggling A man is riding a unicycle. The man is juggling.

The relative pronoun “who” replaces the subject of the modifying clause.

The man who is juggling is riding a unicycle.

The man was riding a unicycle. I saw the man.

The relative pronoun “who” (or “whom”) replaces the object of the modifying clause. The relative pronoun moves directly before the subject (S) of the modifying clause:

The man who(m) I saw was riding a unicycle.

The horse is well-trained. The horse is carrying the woman.

The horse that is carrying the woman is well-trained.

The circus act was amazing. I watched the act.

The circus act that I watched was amazing.

Woman riding a horse

Which pronoun should I use?

  • You can use “that” to replace a noun for a person or a thing.
  • You can use “which” to replace a noun for a thing only.
  • You can use who/whom to replace a noun for a person only.

Now you try!

Change the second sentence into a relative clause. Put it directly after the noun it is describing. Answers are at the bottom of this post.

The lion is dangerous.
The lion is licking the lion-tamer.The man trusts the lion.
The lion is licking the man
.
Lion licking a man
clown holding balloons The man is holding balloons.
The balloons look like flowers.The man is holding balloons.
People can buy the balloons.
The man is a fire-eater.
The man is holding five flaming torches.
The torches can burn him.
He is holding the torches
.
 man eating fire

Answers:

The lion which is licking the lion-tamer is dangerous.

The man that the lion is licking trusts the lion.

The man is holding balloons that look like flowers.

The man is holding balloons which people can buy.

The man who is holding five flaming torches is a fire-eater.

The torches that he is holding can burn him.

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