What are relative clauses?

Relative clauses are used to connect sentences. We use relative clauses to give additional information about something without starting a new sentence. This makes language sound more fluent and avoids repeating words.

A relative clause describes, adapts or modifies a noun. For example:

Her cousin, who is a famous actress, invited her to the preview of her latest film. 

''Who is a famous actress'' is a relative clause which gives us extra information about ''her cousin'' (the noun). 

The word 'who' is a relative pronoun.

The most common relative pronouns are: who, whom, whose, which and that.

The relative pronouns who and whom give information about people.

The boy who lives next door goes to the same school as me.


The relative pronoun that gives information about things. It is not set off by commas.

We visited the museum that is on the other side of the street.


The relative pronoun which gives information that isn't really necessary.

We had a picnic in the park, which was very pretty. 


The relative pronoun whose shows possession. Not to be confused with who's which is short for who is.

Darren, whose legs are really long, is a natural athlete.


For this set of activities, see if you can choose the best relative pronoun to complete the sentences.


This is the girl ______ painted the giant ladybird on the playground.

which / who

The most suitable relative pronoun is who.