Saturday, December 4, 2010

Relative Pronouns and Relative Adverbs - Difference Explained

Look at the following sentences :

1 The book which I read yesterday is a novel by R.K.Narayan.
2 The man who helped me most is my teacher.
3 This is the song which I like most.
4 This is the house where he lived .
5 The morning when we arrived at the hotel was a lovely one .

In these sentences the italicized part is the relative clause . It is called so because it is introduced by a relative pronoun or relative adverb . The words in bold type are either relative pronouns or relative adverbs .

How will you distinguish relative pronouns from relative adverbs? Well, it is as simple as that! Words like which, who whom and that are preceded by nouns , and these nouns are subjects or objects of the verbs in relative clauses . Thus in Sentence No 1 book is the object of the verb read. and which is a relative pronoun . It stands for the noun book . and so it is a pronoun . At the same time it relates to the noun book and so it is rightly called a relative pronoun

Now, have a look at Sentence No 4:The noun house is neither the subject nor the object of the verb lived .It answers the question "at what place?" ansd so the word that follows it , where. , is called relative adverb . It modifies the verb lived by stating the place .

In Sentence No 5 the noun morning answers the question " at what time ? " . It is , therefore, followed by the adverb when which relates to the noun morning .

The way how and the reason why

The relative adverbs in these expressions sound repetitive, don't they? These expressions have practically disappeared from English .

1This is the way how they treated prisoners.
2 I don't know the reason why they have denied me a promotion

In the following sentences how and why should be treated as conjunctions ,as they have no antecedents to relate to .
1 This is how they treated prisoners .
2I don't know why they deny me a promotion .

Relative adverbs like where and when cannot be used as conjunctions because their antecedents keep changing from context to context . and so they have to be stated for clarity .
In the case of the reason why and the way how their antecedents (reason and way) are fixed and so they got dropped out .