Defining relative clauses
We use defining relative clauses to specify which person, thing or place we are talking about.
Who, which, where
We use who for people.
- He met the police officer who saved his life.
We use which for things and animals.
- He put on the suit which he wore for special occasions.
We use where for places.
- This is the hotel where we spent our honeymoon.
We can use that instead of who or which. But we often use who for people and which/that for things.
- He’s the neighbour who/that helped us to move out.
- Change the cable which/that connects the computer to the printer.
Be careful with these common mistakes!
We cannot use *what or an expression like *that he/she etc. in this type of relative clauses.
- That’s the student that/who I told you about. (NOT
the student what I told you about)
- That’s the man that/who tried to steal my wallet. (NOT
the man that he tried to steal my wallet.)