Use of they/them/theirwith neither/either, someone/everyone/no one etc.
These expressions are singular and take a singular verb. Their personal pronouns therefore should be he/sheand the possessive adjectives should be his/her (he/hisfor males and mixed sexes; she/herfor females). But many native speakers find this troublesome and often use they/their,even when only one sex is involved:
Neither of them remembered their instructions.
Would someone lend me their binoculars?
Everyone has read the notice, haven't they?
No one objected, did they? (See also 51 C.)
70 Reflexive pronouns
A These are: myself, yourself, himself, herself, itself, ourselves,
yourselves, themselves.Note the difference between the second person singular yourself,and the second person plural yourselves.The indefinite reflexive/emphasizing pronoun is oneself.
Â myself, yourselfetc. are used as objects of a verb when the action of the verb returns to the doer, i.e. when subject and object are the same person:
/ cut myself. He can't shave himself.
It is not always easy to amuse oneself on holiday.
Tom and Ann blamed themselves for the accident.
This refrigerator defrosts itself.
Note the change of meaning if we replace the reflexive pronoun by the reciprocal pronoun each other:
Tom and Ann blamed each other. (Tom blamed Ann and Ann
blamed Tom. See 53 C.)
Ñ myself, yourself etc. are used similarly after a verb + preposition:
He spoke to himself. Did she pay for herself?
Look after yourself. Take care of yourselves.
I'm annoyed with myself. He sat by himself, (alone)
She addressed the envelope to herself.
But if the preposition indicates locality, we use the ordinary, not the reflexive, pronouns:
Did you take your dog with you?
They put the child between them.
Had he/Did he have any money on him?
71 myself, himself, herself etc.used as emphasizing pronouns
myselfetc. can also be used to emphasize a noun or pronoun:
The King himself gave her the medal. selfis then stressed in speech.
When used in this way the pronoun is never essential and can be omitted without changing the sense. It usually emphasizes the subject of the sentence and is placed after it:
Ann herself opened the door. Tom himself went. Alternatively it can be placed after the object if there is one:
Ann opened the door herself or after an intransitive verb:
Tom went himself.
If the intransitive verb is followed by a preposition + noun, the emphasizing pronoun can be placed after this noun:
Tom went to London himself or Tom himself went to London. When it emphasizes another noun it is placed immediately after it:
/ saw Tom himself. I spoke to the President himself.
She liked the diamond itself but not the setting. Note the difference between:
/ did it myself (It was done by me and not by someone else) and
/ did it by myself (I did it without help).
Relative pronouns and clauses
There are three kinds of relative clauses: defining (see 72-7), non-defining (78-81) and connective (82).
72 Defining relative clauses
These describe the preceding noun in such a way as to distinguish it from other nouns of the same class. A clause of this kind is essential to the clear understanding of the noun. In the sentence:
The man who told me this refused to give me his name 'who told me this' is the relative clause. If we omit this, it is not clear what man we are talking about. Notice that there is no comma between a noun and a defining relative clause.
Defining relative clauses usually follow the + noun, but they can also be used with a/an + noun, plural nouns without the and the pronouns all, none, anybody, somebodyetc. and those.Clauses following a/an + noun, plural nouns without theand somebody/someone/somethingsometimes define their noun/pronoun only indirectly. The noun/pronoun in these cases is usually the object of a verb or preposition:
/ met someone who said he knew you.
The book is about a girl who falls in love with . . . Sometimes these clauses are separated from their noun/pronoun by a word or phrase:
There's a man here who wants . . .
I saw something in the paper which would interest you. But normally relative clauses should be placed directly after their noun or pronoun:
The noise that he made woke everybody up.
She was annoyed by something that I had said.
73 Relative pronouns used in defining relative clauses The forms are as follows:
74Defining relative clauses: persons
A Subject: whoor that whois normally used:
The man who robbed you has been arrested.
The girls who serve in the shop are the owner's daughters.
Only those who had booked in advance were allowed in.
Would anyone who saw the accident please get in touch with
But thatis a possible alternative after all, everyone, everybody , one, nobody and those:
Everyone who/that knew him liked him.
Nobody who/that watched the match will ever forget it.
B Object of a verb: whom or who or that
The object form is whom,but this is considered very formal. In spoke , English we normally use whoor that (thatbeing more usual than who), and it is still more common to omit the object pronoun altogether:
The man whom I saw told me to come back today or
The man who I saw ... or The man that I saw ... or
The man I saw . . . (relative pronoun omitted)
The girls whom he employs are always complaining about their pay 01
The girls who he employs ... or The girls that he employs . . or
The girls he employs . . .
C With a preposition: whom or that
In formal English the preposition is placed before the relative pronoun, which must then be put into the form whom:
the man to whom I spoke
In informal speech, however, it is more usual to move the preposition to the end of the clause, whomthen is often replaced by that,but it is still more common to omit the relative altogether:
the man who/whom I spoke to or
the man that I spoke to or the man I spoke to Similarly:
The man from whom I bought it told me to oil it or
The man who/that I bought it from ... or
The man I bought it from . . .
The friend with whom I was travelling spoke French or
The friend who/that I was travelling with ... or
The friend I was travelling with . . .
whoseis the only possible form:
People whose rents have been raised can appeal. The film is about a spy whose wife betrays him.
Defining relative clauses: things 75 a Subject
Either which or that, whichis the more formal:
This is the picture which/that caused such a sensation. The stairs which/that lead to the cellar are rather slippery. (See also B below.)
B Object of a verb
which or that,or no relative at all:
The car which/that I hired broke down or The car I hired . . . whichis hardly ever used after all, everything, little, much, none,
no and compounds of no, or after superlatives. Instead we use that,or omit the relative altogether, if it is the object of a verb:
All the apples that fall are eaten by the pigs.
This is the best hotel (that) I know.
C Object of a preposition
The formal construction is preposition + which,but it is more usual to move the preposition to the end of the clause, using which or thator omitting the relative altogether:
The ladder on which I was standing began to slip or The ladder which/that I was standing on began to slip or The ladder I was standing on began to slip.
whose+ a clause is possible but with+ a phrase is more usual:
a house whose walls were made of glass a house with glass walls
E Relative adverbs: when, where, why
Note that whencan replace in/on which(used of time):
the year when (= in which) he was born
the day when (= on which) they arrived wherecan replace in/at which(used of place):
the hotel where (= in/at which) they were staying why can replace for which:The reason why he refused is . . . when, whereand whyused in this way are called relative adverbs.
76 Cleft sentences: it + be + noun/pronoun + defining relative clause
It was Tom who helped us. (not Bill or Jack)
It was Ann that I saw. (not Mary)
When the object is a proper noun, as above, that is more usual than who. With all other objects, thatis the correct form:
It's the manager that we want to see.
It was wine that we ordered, (not beer) thatis usual for non-personal subjects:
It's speed that causes accidents, not bad roads.
77 A relative clause replaced by an infinitive or a participle
A Infinitives can be used:
1 After the first/secondetc. and after the last/onlyand sometimes after superlatives:
the last man to leave the ship =
the last man who left/leaves the ship
the only one to understand =
the only one who understood/understands
Notice that the infinitive here replaces a subject pronoun + verb. It could not be used to replace an object pronoun + verb. For example the clause in the first man that we saw could not be replaced by an infinitive, for the first man to see would have a completely different meaning. If, however, thatis the subject of a passive verb, e.g. the first man that was seen, we can replace the clause by a passive infinitive: the first man to be seen.
2 When there is an idea of purpose or permission:
He has a lot of books to read, (books that he can/must read)
She had something to do. (something that she could do/had to do)
They need a garden to play in. (a garden they can play in) Note that here the infinitive replaces a verb + relative pronoun as object.
It might be thought that these two uses of the infinitive would lead to confusion but in practice this is very rare as the meaning of the infinitive is made clear by the rest of the sentence.
By itself the phrase the first man to see could mean either the first man that we must see (man is the object) or the first man who saw (man is the subject), but when it is part of a sentence we can see at once which meaning is intended:
The first man to see is Tom =
The first man that we must see is Tom, while
The first man to see me was Tom =
The first man who saw me was Tom.
B Present participles can be used:
1 When the verb in the clause is in the continuous tense:
People who are/were waiting for the bus often shelter/sheltered in
my doorway =
People waiting for the bus often shelter/sheltered . . .
2 When the verb in the clause expresses a habitual or continuous action:
Passengers who travel/travelled on this bus buy/bought their tickets h
books = Passengers travelling. . .
Boys who attend/attended this school have/had to wear uniform =
Boys attending . . .
a law which forbids/forbade the import = a law forbidding the impof
a notice which warns/warned people = a notice warning people
an advertisement which urges/urged = an advertisement urging
a petition asking a letter ordering/demanding/telling
a placard protesting placards protesting
, When a verb in the clause expresses a wish, i.e. when the verb in the clause is wish, desire, want, hope (but not like): people who wish/wished to go on the tour = people wishing to go on the tour fans who hope /hoped for a glimpse of the star = fans hoping for a glimpse of the star
a A non-defining clause (see 78 below) containing one of the above verbs, or any verb of knowing or thinking, e.g. know, think, believe, expect, can be similarly replaced by a present participle-Peter, who thought the journey would take two days, said Peter thinking the journey would take two days, said . . . Tom ' who expected to be paid the following week, offered Tom expecting to be paid the following week, offered . . . Bill 'who wanted to make an impression on Ann, took her to . . . = Bill, wanting to make an impression on Ann, took her to ...
78 Non-defining relative clauses
A Non-defining relative clauses are placed after nouns which are definite already They do not therefore define the noun, but merely add something to it by giving some more information about it. Unlike defining relative clauses, they are not essential in the sentence and can be omitted without causing confusion. Also unlike defining relatives, they are separated from their noun by commas. The pronoun can never be omitted in a non-defining relative clause. The construction is fairly formal and more common in written than in spoken English. B Relative pronouns used in non-defining relative clauses:
For persons For things
whose whose/of which
79 Non-defining relative clauses: persons
A Subject: who
No other pronoun is possible. Note the commas:
My neighbour, who is very pessimistic, says there will be no apples
Peter, who had been driving all day, suggested stopping at
the next town.
Clauses such as these, which come immediately after the subject of the main verb, are found mainly in written English. In spoken English we would be more likely to say:
My neighbour is very pessimistic and says . . .
Peter had been driving all day, so/and he suggested . But clauses placed later in the sentence, i.e. clauses coming after the object of the main verb, are quite common in conversation:
I've invited Ann, who lives in the next flat. Clauses following a preposition + noun are also common:
I passed the letter to Peter, who was sitting beside me.
B Object: whom, who
The pronoun cannot be omitted, whomis the correct form, though whois sometimes used in conversation:
Peter, whom everyone suspected, turned out to be innocent. As noted above, a non-defining clause in this position is unusual in spoken English. We would be more likely to say:
Everyone suspected Peter, but he turned out to be innocent. But non-defining clauses coming later in the sentence, i.e. after the object of the main verb or after a preposition + noun, are common in conversation:
She wanted Tom, whom she liked, as a partner; but she got Jack,
whom she didn't like.
She introduced me to her husband, whom I hadn 't met before.
C Object of a preposition: whom
The pronoun cannot be omitted. The preposition is normally placed before whom:
Mr Jones, for whom I was working, was very generous about
It is however possible to move the preposition to the end of the clause. This is commonly done in conversation, and whothen usually takes the place of whom:
Mr Jones, who I was working for, . . .
If the clause contains an expression of time or place, this will remain at the end:
Peter, with whom I played tennis on Sundays, was fitter than me could become
Peter, who/whom I played tennis with on Sundays, was fitter
D Possessive: whose
Ann, whose children are at school all day, is trying to get a job. This is George, whose class you will be taking. In conversation we would probably say:
Ann's children are at school all day, so she . This is George. You will be taking his class.
an all, both, few, most, several, some etc. + of + whom/which
This form can be used for both people and things. See examples below. For each a more informal equivalent is given in brackets:
Her sons, both of whom work abroad, ring her up every week.
(Both her sons work abroad, but they ring her up every week.)
He went with a group of people, few of whom were correctly equipped
for such a climb.
(He went with a group of people; few of them . . .)
The buses, most of which were already full, were surrounded by
an angry crowd.
(Most of the buses were full, and/but they were surrounded by
an angry crowd.)
I met the fruit-pickers, several of whom were university students.
(I met the fruit-pickers; several of them were . . .)
I picked up the apples, some of which were badly bruised.
(I picked up the apples; some of them . . .)
The house was full of boys, ten of whom were his own grandchildren.
(The house was full of boys; ten of them . . .)
81 Non-defining relative clauses: things
A Subject: which
thatis not used here:
That block, which cost £5 million to build, has been empty for years.
The 8.15 train, which is usually very punctual, was late today. In speech we would be more likely to say:
That block cost £5 million to build and has been empty for years.
The 8.15 train is usually punctual; but it was late today.
B Object: which
thatis not used here, and the whichcan never be omitted: She gave me this jumper, which she had knitted herself or She gave me this jumper; she had knitted it herself. These books, which you can get at any bookshop, will give you all the information you need or
These books will give you all the information you need. You can get them at any bookshop.
C Object of a preposition
The preposition comes before which,or (more informally) at the end of the clause:
Ashdown Forest, through which we 'II be driving, isn 't a forest
any longer or
Ashdown Forest, which we 'II be driving through, isn't a forest
His house, for which he paid £10,000, is now worth £50,000 or
His house, which he paid £10,000 for, is now . . .
D whichwith phrasal verbs
Combinations such as look after, look forward to, put up with (see chapter 38) should be treated as a unit, i.e. the preposition/adverb should not be separated from the verb:
This machine, which I have looked after for twenty years, is still
Your inefficiency, which we have put up with far too long, is
beginning to annoy our customers.
E Possessive: whoseor of which
whoseis generally used both for animals and things, of whichis possible for things, but is unusual except in very formal English.
His house, whose windows were all broken, was a depressing sight.
The car, whose handbrake wasn't very reliable, began to slide
82Connective relative clauses
The pronouns are who, whom, whose, which.Commas are used as with non-defining clauses. Connective clauses do not describe their nouns but continue the story. They are usually placed after the object of the main verb:
/ told Peter, who said it wasn 't his business or after the preposition + noun:
/ threw the ball to Tom, who threw it to Ann. They can be replaced by and/but + he/she etc.:
/ threw the ball to Tom and he threw it. . .
I told Peter, but he said . . .
Sometimes it may be difficult to say whether a clause in this position is non-defining or connective, but there is no need for students to make this distinction, as the two forms are the same. More examples of connective clauses:
He drank beer, which made him fat =
He drank beer and it made him fat.
We went with Peter, whose car broke down before we were
halfway there =
We went with Peter but his car broke down before we were
We can use one/two etc., few/several/some etc. + of + whom/whichas shown in 80:
I bought a dozen eggs, six of which broke when I dropped the box.
He introduced me to his boys, one of whom offered to go with me.
The lorry crashed into a queue of people, several of whom had to have
hospital treatment. whichcan also stand for a whole clause:
The clock struck thirteen, which made everyone laugh.
He refused to do his share of the chores, which annoyed the others.
(His refusal annoyed them.)
The rain rattled on the roof all night, which kept us awake. She was much kinder to her youngest child than she was to the others, which made the others jealous.
53 what(relative pronoun) and which(connective relative)
what= the thing that/the things that:
What we saw astonished us =
The things that we saw astonished us.
When she sees what you have done she will be furious =
When she sees the damage that you have done she will be furious. Be careful not to confuse the relative whatwith the connective relative which.Remember that whichmust refer to a word or group of words in the preceding sentence, while whatdoes not refer back to anything. The relative whatis also usually the object of a verb, while the connective whichis usually the subject:
He said he had no money, which was not true.
Some of the roads were flooded, which made our journey more
difficult. (See also 82.)
84 The importance of commas in relative clauses
Remember that a defining relative clause is written without commas. Note how the meaning changes when commas are inserted:
(a) The travellers who knew about the floods took another road.
(b) The travellers, who knew about the floods, took another road. In (a) we have a defining relative clause, which defines or limits the noun travellers. This sentence therefore tells us that only the travellers who knew about the floods took the other road, and implies that there were other travellers who did not know and who took the flooded road. In (b) we have a non-defining clause, which does not define or limit the noun it follows. This sentence therefore implies that all the travellers knew about the floods and took the other road.
(c) The boys who wanted to play football were disappointed when it rained.
(d) The boys, who wanted to play football, were disappointed . . . Sentence (c) implies that only some of the boys wanted to play football. There were presumably others who didn't mind whether it rained or not. Sentence (d) implies that all the boys wanted to play and all were disappointed.
(e) The wine which was in the cellar was ruined. (0 The wine, which was in the cellar, was ruined.
Sentence (e) implies that only some of the wine was ruined. Presumably some was kept elsewhere and escaped damage. Sentence (f) states that all the wine was in the cellar and ruined.