Relative pronouns as subject or object?

Discussion in 'English Only' started by susantash, Feb 16, 2007.

  1. susantash Senior Member

    Montevideo
    Español de Uruguay
    Hi there!

    I'm really confused about this. My coursebook gives examples of both; used as a subject and as an object, but for me in both cases the relative pronoun is used as an object.
    Please tell me what you think.

    (subject)
    I like guys who aren't too serious.
    I like guys who have a good sense of humour.

    (object)
    I'd prefer someone (who/that) I can talk to easily.
    I'd prefer someone (who/that) I can have fun with.


    I notice you can't omit the relative pronoun in the first two examples so I suspect it has something to do with the fact that they're being used as subjects. Is it because they're the subject of the relative clause?
     
  2. Mucha-phile

    Mucha-phile Junior Member

    United States, English
    In the first case:
    (subject)
    I like guys who aren't too serious.
    I like guys who have a good sense of humour.
    ..."aren't too serious" and "have a good sense of humor"...there is no preposition, so who acts as the subject

    In the second case
    (object)
    I'd prefer someone (who/that) I can talk to easily.
    I'd prefer someone (who/that) I can have fun with.
    ..."I can have fun with" and "I can easily talk to"...the presence of "with" and "to" (prepositions) is what makes who an indirect object instead of a subject. In this case, who is being acted upon instead of acting. "I" is the subject in these cases.

    More examples:
    I saw the girl who stole my coat.
    ...no preposition, so it's a subject.
    In two sentances, this would be..."I saw the girl. She stole my coat."
    I saw the girl (who) I ate lunch with yesterday.
    "I" is the subject, "ate with" acts on "who"...in two sentances "I saw the girl. I ate lunch with her yesterday."

    Hope that helps!
     
  3. helendeformsa

    helendeformsa Senior Member

    ROC, Taiwanese
    My two cents are as above.
     
  4. Parla Senior Member

    New York City
    English - US
    Yes. The "who" is needed.

    I'd omit the pronoun entirely in the second set of examples, since it's unnecessary. I don't like "that" referring to people (just a personal preference); and the "correct" pronoun would be whom (object), not who--which would make an easy-flowing sentence sound stilted.
     
  5. RajibDavid Junior Member

    Spanish
    Can someone explain the definition of "object pronoun" and "subject pronoun" in relative clauses.
     
  6. Cagey post mod

    California
    English - US
    The posts above have examples of each. This is how they decided which one each was.

    If a relative pronoun is the subject of the verb in the relative clause, it is a subject pronoun:
    I like guys who aren't too serious.
    Are is the verb, who is the subject of the verb, so it is a 'subject pronoun'.

    If a relative pronoun is the object of the verb in the relative clause, it is an object pronoun. We also call it an object pronoun if it is the object of a preposition. Sometimes an object pronoun has the special form, whom instead of who. The relative pronouns here are object pronouns.
    I'd prefer someone (who /whom /that) I can have fun with.
    For sake of clarity, I'll rearrange the relative clause:
    I can have fun with (who /whom /that).
    (Who /whom/ that) are the objects of the preposition with, and so are 'object pronouns'.
     
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2011

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