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  1. Unregistered

    Problems with relative pronouns

    Why is 'what' a relative pronoun in this sentence: 'I know what I like'.

    Why is 'whoever' a relative pronoun in this sentence: 'Whoever comes will be welcomed.'

    I read that the definition of a relative pronoun is: 'Relative pronouns relate back to a noun or pronoun in a preceding clause, and they connect the two clauses.' I read elsewhere that: 'The relative pronoun introduces a subordinate clause.'

    These definitions seem clear in the following examples (independent clauses = bold text, subordinate clauses = everything not highlighted):

    The man who lives next door broke his leg.
    [who refers back to man]

    The refrigerator which had just been delivered needed cleaning.
    [which refers back to refrigerator]

    The book that I bought was on sale.
    [that refers back to book]

    He is a man in whom I have great confidence.
    [whom refers to man]

    I found a book whose pages were torn
    [whose refers to book]

  2. Noego's Avatar
    Senior Member
    English Teacher
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    • Join Date: Mar 2007
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    Re: Problems with relative pronouns

    "I know what I like"

    That's some really good questions. I'd be interesting to know this as well.

    I'm raking my brain, but I can't seem to come up with an example where what is used as a relative pronoun.

    In the above sentence I don't think "what" introduces a subordinate clause.

    It's weird, doesn't seem to consider "what" as relative pronoun:

    "Relative Pronoun A relative pronoun "relates" a subordinate clause to the rest of the sentence. It may be found in adjective and noun clauses.
    A relative pronoun is found only in sentences with more than one clause.
    In modern English there are five relative pronouns: that, which, who, whom, and whose.
    All but that can also be interrogative pronouns. That may also be a demonstrative pronoun.
    In addition, these pronouns may take the suffixes -ever and -soever."

    I checked the glossary on this website and came up with a similar answer:
    "Relative pronouns, such as That, Who, Which, Whose and Whom can be used to introduce clauses in sentences"

    None of them refer to "what" as a relative pronoun. I know in your example it's not an interrogative pronoun but I don't know what kind of pronoun it is.
    Last edited by Noego; 13-Apr-2007 at 07:49.

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