Relative clauses – informal or formal use

What are the differences in relative clauses in informal and formal situations?

It’s another question from Cristina

In Informal situations we would use that rather than which or who:

The man that spoke to me was very worried

rather than

The man who spoke to me was very worried

or we would omit the relative clause completely:

The jacket Fred usually wears is a tennis blazer.

rather than

The jacket that Fred usually wears is a tennis blazer.

(this is only possible if the verb has a subject)

using “whom” is more formal than who


in informal spoken English we normally put the preposition at the end of the relative clause:

  • … the restaurant which we go to.        or
  • … the letter that I was looking for.
  • … a subject which I know very little about.
  • … the person who I obtained the information from.

in formal English we can say:

  • Was that the restaurant to which we normally go?     or
  • Electronics is a subject about which I know very little.      or
  • John is the person from whom I obtained the information.

What relative pronouns can we use? who, whom, where, which …

If you want to see more of our grammar lessons – this is the place to go

How do we use commas in relative clauses?

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