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Relative Pronouns and Adjectives: Review

Notes:

  1. The written lesson is below.
  2. Links to quizzes, tests, etc. are to the left.

The past few lessons have covered the subject of “relative pronouns.” The most common relative pronoun is “que”. It can be used to refer to both persons and things, in either the subject or the object position. “Que” is the Spanish equivalent of the English words who, whom, which, and that.

El hombre que es pobre … (person, subject)
The man who is poor …

Los libros que son extensos … (thing, subject)
The books which are long …

La señorita que conocí … (person, object)
The young lady whom I met …

La carta que leiste … (thing, object)
The letter that you read …

The relative pronoun “quien” is used only to refer to people, and has a plural form “quienes”. (There is no masculine/feminine distinction.)

Mi tío, quien es profesor, viene a visitarme hoy día.
My uncle, who is a professor, is coming to visit me today.

When the relative pronoun refers to a person and is in the direct object position, either “que” or “a quien” may be used. Each is correct. Notice that the “personal a” is used with “quien” but in not use with “que”.

La señorita que conocí anoche es la hermana de Raquel.

La señorita a quien conocí anoche es la hermana de Raquel.

The young lady whom I met last night is Raquel’s sister.

When the relative pronoun refers to a person and occurs after a preposition, “quien” must be used. After a preposition, “que” is only used to refer to things.

Los chicos, con quienes fuimos a la playa, son nuestros amigos.
The boys, with whom we went to the beach, are our friends.

El libro en que pienso es extenso, no es corto.
The book I’m thinking of is long, not short.

The relative pronoun “el que” (and its related forms) is used to refer to both people and things. Note that there are four forms to accommodate singular and plural, masculine and feminine: el que, la que, los que, las que.

Mi tía, la que es profesora, viene a visitarme hoy día.
My aunt, the one who is a professor, is coming to visit me today.

Las mesas, las que son de plástico, son baratas.
The tables, the ones that are made of plastic, are cheap.

Mi tío, el que es taxista, llegará pronto.
My uncle, the one who is a taxi driver, will arrive soon.

Mis pantalones, los que son viejos, son muy cómodos.
My pants, the ones that are old, are very comfortable.

Another set of relative pronouns can be used in place of el que, la que, los que, and las que:

el cual
la cual
los cuales
las cuales

These are not commonly used in everyday conversation, and are generally reserved for written Spanish or formal oratory.

When the relative pronoun refers to an abstract idea, use “lo que”.

Lo que quieres no existe.
That which you want does not exist.

No comprendo lo que ocurre.
I do not understand that which is happening.

The relative adjective “cuyo” (and its related forms) relates the owner to that which is owned, as does the English “whose”. Note that there are four forms to accommodate singular and plural, masculine and feminine: cuyo, cuya, cuyos, cuyas.

La niña, cuyo padre es profesor, es muy simpática.
The girl, whose father is profesor, is very nice.

El hombre, cuya madre murió, escribió su biografía.
The man, whose mother died, wrote her biography.

El coche, cuyos faros no funcionan, es un peligro.
The car, whose lights do not work, is a danger.

Pedro, cuyas hermanas son guapas, es mi amigo.
Pedro, whose sisters are beautiful, is my friend.

Note that the adjective agrees in number and gender with the thing being owned, not with the owner:

La niña, cuyo padre es profesor, es muy simpática.

El hombre, cuya madre murió, escribió su biografía.

El coche, cuyos faros no funcionan, es un peligro.

Pedro, cuyas hermanas son guapas, es mi amigo.

The relative pronoun is often omitted in English, but it is never omitted in Spanish.

La casa que compramos es nueva.
The house (that) we bought is new.

El programa que miraba era cómico.
The show (that) I was watching was comical.

In English, although it is technically incorrect, common usage often finds a sentence ending in a preposition. Notice that this never occurs in Spanish.

Ella es la señorita en quien estoy pensando.
She is the young lady I’m thinking about. / She is the young lady about whom I’m thinking.

Mi padre es la persona a quien envío la carta.
My father is the person I’m sending the letter to. / My father is the person to whom I’m sending the letter.

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