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 .

THANK YOU FOR VISITING!



4 comments:

  1. Hi, I'm also a teacher of English, but I am having trouble explaning when relative pronouns/adverbs can be dropped. Of course I can do it intuitively as a native speaker, but I can't seem to come up with any kind of rule to tell my students. For example, in the fifth example sentence you list:
    "The morning when we arrived at the hotel was a lovely one ."
    Can also be written without [when]:
    "The morning we arrived at the hotel was a lovely one ."

    However, in the case of your fourth example,
    "This is the house where he lived . "
    You cannot remove the relative adverb "where".
    "This is the house he lived."

    Both "when" and "where" are relative adverbs, so why is it when can be dropped, but where cannot?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Both when and where can be omitted in informal English. But it is advisable to retain them in formal style English.
      Prof.V.P.Rajappan.

      Delete
  2. He claims he's a professor. However, he writes sentences like "The man who helped me most" instead of "The man who helped me the most. Thank you very much. Please don't spoil the life of students.

    ReplyDelete
  3. He claims he's a professor. However, he writes sentences like "The man who helped me most" instead of "The man who helped me the most. Thank you very much. Please don't spoil the life of students.

    ReplyDelete