11 June 2009

Usage you can use: relative pronouns

The relative pronouns are who, whom, and whose; that and which; and where.

--Use who and whose in reference to persons.

He's the clown who preached for 35 minutes.
The person to whom I complain about long sermons is my 6-yr-old.
DPs are the guys whose sermons are always too long.

NOT: The pastor that preached forever also talked about himself the whole time.

--Use that and which in reference to objects or animals.

The Athanasian is the creed that no mother of a 1-yr-old ever confesses in its entirety.
The gun on the lintel is for untethered dogs which enter my yard.

--Use where in reference to places.

That's the rest stop where we had to get the world's nastiest diaper out of the car.


William Weedon said...

But what if the pastor IS an animal? Can I use THAT then? :)

Cheryl said...

Hmmm, I don't know, Rebekah. I was taught that :that" is applicable to persons OR things. Here's what the Chicago Manual of Style Online has to say:

"A relative pronoun is one that introduces a subordinate (or relative) clause and relates it to the main clause. Relative pronouns in common use are who, which, what, and that. Who is the only relative pronoun that declines: who (nominative), whom (objective), whose (possessive) {the woman who presented the award} {an informant whom he declined to name} {the writer whose book was a best-seller}. Although who refers only to a person (but see 5.62), it can be used in the first, second, or third person. Which refers only to an animal or a thing. What refers only to a nonliving thing. Which and what are used only in the second and third person. That refers to a person, animal, or thing, and can be used in the first, second, or third person."

But my husband would probably be on your side. He had a professor whose pet peeve was people who didn't respect what he termed the "whichness of that."

I think this is one of those questions on which reasonable grammarians may have to disagree! :-)

Glenda said...

Oh sure smarty-pants Cheryl chimes in. ;-)

I'm still lmbo at the fantastic sentence illustrations. I would've learned grammar better if them there sentences would've been in my book. :-D

Rebekah said...

Father William, like this? The pastor that chewed up my couch leg and committed a vile atrocity on the Oriental rug is going back to the pound.

Cheryl, really?! I remember getting reamed up one side for using "that" for persons, and down the other for applying "who" to animals (I think it was moths--you know, "moths who destroy and thieves that break in and steal"). My English teacher must have been friends with your husband's professor. :D

Glenda, someday I'm going to write a whole grammar book just because it amuses me so much to write sample sentences.

Sarah said...

I think the post would have been entertaining yet thought provoking without the pronoun explanations and had us try to guess what the title was.

I fully embrace my occasional misuse of pronouns.

Joy said...

My favorite TV commercial 'round these here parts: Big Sale! Final Day's!

really? you fellas sure you know how to use that thar addin' machine?

Oh, and let's not leave out the nursing home: Assisted Living at It's Finest.

ummm.... yeah, I guess you sound educated enough to care for my grandmother.

No, wait! There's more! Here's some menu items from the *best* Italian restaurant in Jeff City, MO.

pea's and broccoli floret's in a white cream sauce
bow tie's
linguini with clam's in a garlic herb sauce
spaghetti with meat ball's

...I think I lost my appetite!

Joy said...

A thousand pardons. That should be "Here ARE some menu items..."


Banquo's Ghost said...

Hmm. Good stuff. Thanks.

I am a Lutheran English teacher who is deeply committed to classical education, and the past two summers I have been teaching myself how to diagram sentences. This summer, relative clauses are on my list:

Here are the two best books that I have found regarding grammar:

First, an excellent defense of traditional instruction of grammar:

The War Against Grammar by David Mulroy


Then, the text by Cindy Vitto:

Grammar By Diagram: Understanding english Grammar Through Traditional Sentence Diagraming



The Ghost of Beggars All

Liz said...

Thanks! Spent more time in Calc than in English. (Comparing quantities of time as opposed to stating an order in a time-line; than, not then.)

Rev. Karl Hess said...

Thanks for this. I majored in English-Creative Writing (UW 2001). However, we didn't have time for grammar. Instead, I had at least two classes exploring medieval literature through the lens of feminist theory.

Regular grammar review would almost certainly help my preaching.

Rebekah said...

Rev Hess, demand a refund!