|English Grammar through Stories|
|The story I am about to tell you contains lots of examples of the «Relative Pronoun». Before you read it, look through the following notes:|
1. Relative pronouns do two jobs at once:
a. acting as subject or object of a verb
b. joining two clauses together
2. The most common are: who, whom, which and that — who and whom for people and which for things.
3. Whom is not used much in conversation and refers to an object of a verb or a preposition.
4. That can often replace whom, who and which.
5. After nouns referring to times and places, when and where can be used to mean at which or in which and
why can be used to mean for which.
6. Whose is a possessive relative word, referring to people and things.
1. Defining and non-defining relative clauses.
• «George, who lives next door, always watches television.»
• «The couple who live next door always watch television.»
a. For people and things and in conversation.
b. After the following: all, everything, something, anything, nothing, none, little, few, much.
c. After superlatives.
| 3. In defining relative clauses the relative pronoun is often left out if it is the object of the verb.
4. Prepositions can come before the relative pronoun or at the end of the clause but you cannot use that or who
after a preposition.
5. In a non-defining relative clause that cannot be used and object relative pronouns cannot be left out.
6. Sentence Relative Compare:
• «He showed me a photo that upset me.»
• «He tore up the photo, which upset me.»
| 7. Relative and infinitive «He was unhappy unless he had someone with whom to argue.»
8. Whose can refer to people or things and can be the subject of a clause, the object of a verb or the object of a
9. Instead of whose, of which can be used.
10. What Compare: «I gave her the money that she needed.» «I gave her what she wanted.»
|Now read the story and see how many examples of the pronoun you can find.
I hope you know what I'm talking about. I could be talking about «who», «which», «whose» and so on, or I could be talking about aunts, uncles and cousins. That's the trouble with English. One word can have two quite different meanings. Well, in this short piece I'm going to talk about both — that is primarily aunts, uncles and so on and with a bit of luck the other «relatives» should be there too. Anyhow, there are those members of the family whom you regard as part of the family and it never occurs to you that the chap whom you call Dave is also someone to whom you could give the title «uncle». You know him so well that it never occurs to you that he is in fact a relative.
|Then there are those that you only see on special occasions, which don't take place very often like weddings and funerals. In the former you're usually enjoying yourself so much that you don't take much notice of them and in the latter you hardly talk to anyone because it's a time when you don't talk much to anyone and a place where you don't normally go out of your way to be sociable. Then there is that special category of relatives which you hardly ever consider and whose names you only vaguely remember because they did something terrible or left the country in a hurry or who have funny ways which most of us can't accept. I had one like that, an aunt whose name was Enid. In fact whenever I hear the name spoken or read it in a book, I always conjure up in my mind that aunt who must have been the strangest member that my family has produced. As a child I had heard stories about her that may or may not have been true.|
|The best one I remember was when she ended up in hospital with a broken leg. Apparently she was very proud of her house, which she kept in an immaculate condition, and in this particular incident that illustrates her eccentricity, she had seen a mess on one of the rugs she kept in her sitting room. As she was expecting a visitor, who was due any minute, she opened the door to the garden and threw out the rug that was causing the trouble and whose stain was upsetting her. Unfortunately she forgot to get off the rug first and threw herself out into the garden as well. That was how she ended up in the hospital with a broken leg. There were endless stories like those, which were probably exaggerated and that had been added to over the years. Nobody really knew what was true and what was complete fabrication. The one thing that nobody could understand or explain was why she had gone to live in another country where she had stayed for more than twenty years.|
|Everybody had something to say on the matter: she had had an unhappy love affair with a man who was married, she wanted to make a fresh start in a place where no-one knew her, she wanted to get away from her family whom she couldn't put up with. Such stories, which grew in number as the years went by, fascinated me. The strange thing was that not one of these stories fitted with the generally accepted belief that Aunt Enid was supposed to be a very shy person, who wouldn't have the courage to say boo to a goose. This was an enigma that I wanted to resolve and when I heard that she was returning to the place where she was born, I hoped I might have the opportunity to meet this living legend and get to the bottom of these stories.|
|My parents had decided to meet her at the port where her ship was due to arrive and I was allowed to go with them. I can still remember the excitement and anticipation I felt as a child waiting for the ship to arrive. My father, who was always making fun of Aunt Enid, made some remark to the effect that she had probably missed the boat and taken the wrong one to another destination that was probably the other side of the world. We waited and then slowly through the mist we saw the ship whose right side bore the name «Voyager», which I thought was very romantic since it aptly described what my aunt had been doing for the last twenty years. I even imagined that the small dot visible on the deck was Aunt Enid waving to us. But my father pointed out that what I thought was Aunt Enid was in fact one of the anchors. Eventually the «Voyager» docked and as was to be expected the last person to disembark was my celebrated Aunt. I must admit that she was a bit of an anti-climax because she was small, frail, gray-haired, spoke with a tiny crackling voice, which sounded like a tiny mouse, and was to all intents and purposes a very ordinary old lady. It was several weeks before Aunt Enid and I were alone together.|
|In fact it was the afternoon on which she was preparing to go back to her home abroad. I had not had enough courage to put the question to her, which I had promised myself I would. In a sudden rush of confidence I burst out: «Why did you go and live abroad all those years ago, Aunt Enid?» She smiled that smile for which old people are famous, that combines compassion with wisdom. «I'll tell you on one condition«, she replied «and that is that you don't tell a living soul». I promised. As all the «living souls» to whom she was referring are now no longer alive, I think it's reasonable to reveal Aunt Enid's secret. Apparently the day on which she left home for the last time she had taken a train to visit a friend, who didn't live far away but unfortunately she had fallen asleep, missed the station she wanted and didn't wake up until the train came to the end of the line, which happened to be the very port where we had met her some weeks before. She decided there and then that she would not put up with any more of the jokes which had haunted her all her life and booked a passage on the next ship never finding the courage with which to explain the reason for her departure. What you might call a RELATIVELY simple explanation.|
|English Grammar through Stories|