Nominal Relative Pronouns

Nominal relative pronouns are also known as free relative pronouns are used to introduce a relative clause. Click here to learn!

Nominal Relative Pronouns in the English Grammar

What Are Nominal Relative Pronouns?

Nominal relative pronouns (also called free relative pronouns) are used to connect the antecedent and the relative clause.

English Nominal Relative Pronouns

Here is a list of nominal relative pronouns:

  1. what/whatever
  2. which/whichever
  3. when/whenever
  4. where/wherever
  5. who/ whoever
  6. why
  7. how
  8. whom/whomever

What Are Nominal Relative Pronouns Used for?

using 'whatever' as a nominal relative pronoun

Nominal relative pronouns are used to introduce a relative clause that serves as the object, a subject, or a complement.
Look at an example:

I will listen to whatever you say.

'Whatever you say' acts an object for the verb 'know.'

Where you go sounds very important to me.

'Where you go' is the subject of 'sounds very important to me.'

It is how you said that.

'How you said that' is the complement of 'it is.'

Where Are Nominal Relative Pronouns Placed?

Nominal relative pronouns head a nominal relative clause that comes after the main clause. For example:

It is what you thought.

'What you thought' is a complement for 'it is.'

'Who': a Relative Pronoun or an Interrogative Pronoun?

The only way to distinguish between 'who' as a relative pronoun and as an interrogative pronoun is to check for an antecedent before 'who.' If there is an antecedent, 'who' acts as a relative pronoun, but if not, it acts as an interrogative pronoun.
Look at the example:

Who does that vs. The man who does that

'Who' in the first example is interrogative pronoun because it replaces a subject. While 'who' in the second example is a relative pronoun because it describes 'the man.'


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