Relative Pronouns Common Mistakes
Relative pronouns are words like who, which, that, whom etc. In this lesson we will learn about the common mistakes in the use of relative pronouns.
Incorrect: Alice, that does my hair, has moved to another hairdresser’s.
Correct: Alice, who does my hair, has moved to another hairdresser’s.
The relative pronoun that can refer to both people and things, but it is not used in non-identifying relative clauses.
Note that non-identifying relative clauses simply give additional information. They can be easily left out. Identifying relative clauses, on the other hand, cannot be easily left out.
Incorrect: I poured him a glass of coffee, he drank at once.
Correct: I poured him a glass of coffee, which he drank at once.
Incorrect: She went to work with my cousin, she later married.
Correct: She went to work with my cousin, whom she later married.
The relative pronoun cannot be left out in non-identifying relative clauses.
Incorrect: This is the house what Jack built. Correct: This is the house that Jack built.
Incorrect: The only thing what keeps me awake is coffee. Correct: The only thing that keeps me awake is coffee.
What means ‘that which’ or ‘the things which’. It cannot be used as an ordinary relative pronoun after a noun or pronoun.
Incorrect: That cannot be cured must be endured.
Correct: What cannot be cured must be endured. (= That which cannot be cured must be endured.)