relative adverbs


Senior Member
Chinese, Taiwan
Hi, everyone, what do you think of the following?

I saw a grammar website written by Chinese say "relative adverbs" include when, where, why, and how. Below are its example sentences.
I visited the house where Shakespeare was born.
The time when the event took place was 6 AM.
This is the reason why he gave up the plan.
This is the way how he always treats me.

But when I searched for online grammar explanations written by native speakers, none of the several websites I visited showed "how" is included in "relative adverbs". Can you folks tell me whether "how" is included in "relative adverbs"?

Thanks in advance for your comments.
  • TrentinaNE

    Senior Member
    English (American)
    Hi, Andychen. :) The last example doesn't sound right. Instead of
    This is the way how he always treats me.
    I would write: This is the way (that) he always treats me (We often leave out "that" in everyday speech, but it is understood.)

    As for whether "how" is a relative pronoun, I don't know the answer to that one, but I trust someone else will come along with information soon. :)

    Best wishes,


    I'm not an English teacher, just a native speaker, but I think that how is not a relative pronoun. Here are two sites that I found on a quick Google search: from Wikipedia; and from U of Oregon.

    I would also add to TrentinaNE's corrections: say either why or the reason that but not the reason why. If you are telling the reason, you are telling why.

    Tell me the reason that this is the correct answer.
    Tell me why this is correct.

    But don't worry about it too much. Plenty of my fellow Americans get this wrong, every day, everywhere!


    Senior Member
    USA English
    I had to look this one up in a grammar reference book by Diane Larsen Freeman and Marianne Celce-Murcia. It also uses the term relative adverb and distinguishes relative pronouns and adverbs. The authors cite a study done in 1978 by Snow in which a database was used to search for relative adverbs. He (she?) concluded that "how" is rarely, if ever, used as a relative adverb when the head noun is used.

    The place where:tick:
    The time when:tick:
    but not
    the way how:cross: