Intermediate grammar exercise: relative pronouns – who, which, that, whose

English grammar practice exercise, for pre-intermediate and intermediate level.

In this exercise you will practise using relative pronouns: who, which, that and whose.

Exercise instructions

Put who, which, that or whose in each gap to make one sentence from the two sentences given.

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Relative clauses
Defining relative clauses are used to specify which person or thing we mean.
Who or that are used for people. Which or that are used for things.

We don't use commas in a defining relative clause.
I have a friend who / that speaks five languages.

She showed me the coat which / that she had bought.
Non-defining relative clauses (extra information clauses) are used to add extra information to a sentence.

We use commas in a non-defining relative clause.

Who is used for people.
Which is used for things.
That cannot be used.
Mr Fry, who speaks five languages, works as a translator for the EU.
Mr Fry, that speaks five languages, works as a translator for the EU.

The area, which has very high unemployment, is in the north of the country.
The area, that has very high unemployment, is in the north of the country.
Relative pronouns
We can use who or that when we talk about people.

Who is more formal than that.
This is the man who helped us. (more formal)

This is the man that helped us. (less formal)

We don’t use what:
This is the man what helped us.
We use which or that when we talk about things (but not people).

Which is more formal than that.
It's the watch which my husband bought me for my birthday. (more formal)

It's the watch that my husband bought me for my birthday. (less formal)
In informal speech, we can omit which and that when the pronoun refers to the object of the sentence. It's the watch my husband bought me for my birthday.

In this sentence, 'the watch' is the object of the verb bought so we don’t need to use that or which.
We cannot omit which and that when the pronoun refers to the subject of the sentence. It was the man that sold me the car.

In this sentence, 'the man' is the subject of the verb sold so we need to use that or who.
It was the man sold me the car.
We use whose to show possession. John, whose brother was also a musician, plays over 100 concerts every year.