[Sidenote: _One obsolete._]
There is an old word, _whether_, used formerly to mean which of two,
but now obsolete. Examples from the Bible: -
_Whether_ of them twain did the will of his father?
_Whether_ is greater, the gold, or the temple?
From Steele (eighteenth century): -
It may be a question _whether_ of these unfortunate persons had
the greater soul.
[Sidenote: _Use of_ who _and its forms._]
98. The use of _who_, with its possessive and objective, is seen in
these sentences: -
_Who_ is she in bloody coronation robes from Rheims? - DE QUINCEY.
_Whose_ was that gentle voice, that, whispering sweet,
Promised, methought, long days of bliss sincere? - BOWLES.
What doth she look on? _Whom_ doth she behold? - WORDSWORTH.
From these sentences it will be seen that interrogative _who_ refers
to _persons only_; that it is not inflected for gender or number, but
for case alone, having three forms; it is always third person, as it
always asks _about_ somebody.
[Sidenote: _Use of_ which.]
99. Examples of the use of interrogative _which_: -
_Which_ of these had speed enough to sweep between the question
and the answer, and divide the one from the other? - DE QUINCEY.
_Which_ of you, shall we say, doth love us most? - SHAKESPEARE.
_Which_ of them [the sisters] shall I take? - _Id._
As shown here, _which_ is not inflected for gender, number, or case;
it refers to either persons or things; it is selective, that is, picks
out one or more from a number of known persons or objects.
[Sidenote: _Use of_ what.]
100. Sentences showing the use of interrogative _what_: -
Since I from Smaylho'me tower have been,
_What_ did thy lady do? - SCOTT.
_What_ is so rare as a day in June? - LOWELL.
_What_ wouldst thou do, old man? - SHAKESPEARE.
These show that _what_ is not inflected for case; that it is always
singular and neuter, referring to things, ideas, actions, etc., not to
DECLENSION OF INTERROGATIVE PRONOUNS.
101. The following are all the interrogative forms: -
SING. AND PLUR. SING. AND PLUR. SINGULAR
_Nom._ who? which? what?
_Poss._ whose? - -
_Obj._ whom? which? what?
In spoken English, _who_ is used as objective instead of _whom_; as,
"_Who_ did you see?" "_Who_ did he speak to?"
[Sidenote: _To tell the case of interrogatives._]
102. The interrogative _who_ has a separate form for each case,
consequently the case can be told by the form of the word; but the
case of _which_ and _what_ must be determined exactly as in nouns, - by
the _use_ of the words.
For instance, in Sec. 99, _which_ is nominative in the first sentence,
since it is subject of the verb _had_; nominative in the second also,
subject of _doth love_; objective in the last, being the direct
object of the verb _shall take_.
[Sidenote: _Further treatment of_ who, which _and_ what.]
103. _Who_, _which_, and _what_ are also relative pronouns; _which_
and _what_ are sometimes adjectives; _what_ may be an adverb in some
They will be spoken of again in the proper places, especially in the
treatment of indirect questions (Sec. 127).
[Sidenote: _Function of the relative pronoun_.]
104. Relative pronouns differ from both personal and interrogative
pronouns in referring to an antecedent, and also in having a
conjunctive use. The advantage in using them is to unite short
statements into longer sentences, and so to make smoother discourse.
Thus we may say, "The last of all the Bards was he. These bards sang
of Border chivalry." Or, it may be shortened into, -
"The last of all the Bards was he,
_Who_ sung of Border chivalry."
In the latter sentence, _who_ evidently refers to _Bards_, which is
called the antecedent of the relative.
[Sidenote: _The antecedent._]
105. The antecedent of a pronoun is the noun, pronoun, or other
word or expression, for which the pronoun stands. It usually precedes
Personal pronouns of the third person may have antecedents also, as
they take the place usually of a word already used; as, -
The priest hath _his_ fee who comes and shrives us. - LOWELL
In this, both _his_ and _who_ have the antecedent _priest_.
The pronoun _which_ may have its antecedent following, and the
antecedent may be a word or a group of words, as will be shown in the
remarks on _which_ below.
[Sidenote: _Two kinds._]
106. Relatives may be SIMPLE or INDEFINITE.
When the word _relative_ is used, a simple relative is meant.
Indefinite relatives, and the indefinite use of simple relatives, will
be discussed further on.
The SIMPLE RELATIVES are _who_, _which_, _that_, _what_.
[Sidenote: Who _and its forms._]
107. Examples of the relative _who_ and its forms: -
1. Has a man gained anything _who_ has received a hundred favors
and rendered none? - EMERSON.
2. That man is little to be envied _whose_ patriotism would not
gain force upon the plain of Marathon. - DR JOHNSON.
3. For her enchanting son,
_Whom_ universal nature did lament. - MILTON.
4. The nurse came to us, _who_ were sitting in an adjoining
apartment. - THACKERAY.
5. Ye mariners of England,
That guard our native seas;
_Whose_ flag has braved, a thousand years,
The battle and the breeze! - CAMPBELL.
6. The men _whom_ men respect, the women _whom_ women approve,
are the men and women _who_ bless their species. - PARTON
[Sidenote: Which _and its forms._]
108. Examples of the relative _which_ and its forms: -
1. They had not their own luster, but the look _which_ is not of
the earth. - BYRON.
2. The embattled portal arch he pass'd,
_Whose_ ponderous grate and massy bar
Had oft roll'd back the tide of war. - SCOTT.
3. Generally speaking, the dogs _which_ stray around the butcher
shops restrain their appetites. - COX.
4. The origin of language is divine, in the same sense in _which_
man's nature, with all its capabilities ..., is a divine
creation. - W.D. WHITNEY.
5. (_a_) This gradation ... ought to be kept in view; else this
description will seem exaggerated, _which_ it certainly is
not. - BURKE.
(_b_) The snow was three inches deep and still falling, _which_
prevented him from taking his usual ride. - IRVING.
109. Examples of the relative _that_: -
1. The man _that_ hath no music in himself,...
Is fit for treasons, stratagems, and spoils.
2. The judge ... bought up all the pigs _that_ could be
had. - LAMB
3. Nature and books belong to the eyes _that_ see them. - EMERSON.
4. For the sake of country a man is told to yield everything
_that_ makes the land honorable. - H.W. BEECHER
5. Reader, _that_ do not pretend to have leisure for very much
scholarship, you will not be angry with me for telling you. - DE
6. The Tree Igdrasil, _that_ has its roots down in the kingdoms
of Hela and Death, and whose boughs overspread the highest
heaven! - CARLYLE.
110. Examples of the use of the relative _what_: -
1. Its net to entangle the enemy seems to be _what_ it chiefly
trusts to, and _what_ it takes most pains to render as complete
as possible. - GOLDSMITH.
2. For _what_ he sought below is passed above, Already done is
all that he would do. - MARGARET FULLER.
3. Some of our readers may have seen in India a crowd of crows
picking a sick vulture to death, no bad type of _what_ often
happens in that country. - MACAULAY
[_To the Teacher._ - If pupils work over the above sentences carefully,
and test every remark in the following paragraphs, they will get a
much better understanding of the relatives.]
REMARKS ON THE RELATIVE PRONOUNS.
111. By reading carefully the sentences in Sec. 107, the following
facts will be noticed about the relative _who_: -
(1) It usually refers to persons: thus, in the first sentence, Sec.
107, _a man...who_; in the second, _that man...whose_; in the third,
_son_, _whom_; and so on.
(2) It has three case forms, - _who_, _whose_, _whom_.
(3) The forms do not change for person or number of the antecedent. In
sentence 4, _who_ is first person; in 5, _whose_ is second person; the
others are all third person. In 1, 2, and 3, the relatives are
singular; in 4, 5, and 6, they are plural.
[Sidenote: Who _referring to animals_.]
112. Though in most cases _who_ refers to persons there are
instances found where it refers to animals. It has been seen (Sec. 24)
that animals are referred to by personal pronouns when their
characteristics or habits are such as to render them important or
interesting to man. Probably on the same principle the personal
relative _who_ is used not infrequently in literature, referring to
Witness the following examples: -
And you, warm little housekeeper [the cricket], _who_ class With
those who think the candles come too soon. - LEIGH HUNT.
The robins...have succeeded in driving off the bluejays _who_
used to build in our pines. - LOWELL.
The little gorilla, _whose_ wound I had dressed, flung its arms
around my neck. - THACKERAY.
A lake frequented by every fowl _whom_ Nature has taught to dip
the wing in water. - DR. JOHNSON.
While we had such plenty of domestic insects _who_ infinitely
excelled the former, because they understood how to weave as well
as to spin. - SWIFT.
My horse, _who_, under his former rider had hunted the buffalo,
seemed as much excited as myself. - IRVING.
Other examples might be quoted from Burke, Kingsley, Smollett, Scott,
Cooper, Gibbon, and others.
113. The sentences in Sec. 108 show that -
(1) _Which_ refers to animals, things, or ideas, not persons.
(2) It is not inflected for gender or number.
(3) It is nearly always third person, rarely second (an example of its
use as second person is given in sentence 32, p. 96).
(4) It has two case forms, - _which_ for the nominative and objective,
_whose_ for the possessive.
[Sidenote: _Examples of_ whose, _possessive case of_ which.]
114. Grammarians sometimes object to the statement that _whose_ is
the possessive of _which_, saying that the phrase _of which_ should
always be used instead; yet a search in literature shows that the
possessive form _whose_ is quite common in prose as well as in poetry:
for example, -
I swept the horizon, and saw at one glance the glorious
elevations, on _whose_ tops the sun kindled all the melodies and
harmonies of light. - BEECHER.
Men may be ready to fight to the death, and to persecute without
pity, for a religion _whose_ creed they do not understand, and
_whose_ precepts they habitually disobey. - MACAULAY
Beneath these sluggish waves lay the once proud cities of the
plain, _whose_ grave was dug by the thunder of the
heavens. - SCOTT.
Many great and opulent cities _whose_ population now exceeds that
of Virginia during the Revolution, and _whose_ names are spoken
in the remotest corner of the civilized world. - MCMASTER.
Through the heavy door _whose_ bronze network closes the place of
his rest, let us enter the church itself. - RUSKIN.
This moribund '61, _whose_ career of life is just coming to its
terminus. - THACKERAY.
So in Matthew Arnold, Kingsley, Burke, and numerous others.
[Sidenote: Which _and its antecedents_.]
115. The last two sentences in Sec. 108 show that _which_ may have
other antecedents than nouns and pronouns. In 5 (_a_) there is a
participial adjective used as the antecedent; in 5 (_b_) there is a
complete clause employed as antecedent. This often occurs.
Sometimes, too, the antecedent follows _which_; thus, -
And, which is worse, _all you have done
Hath been but for a wayward son_.
Primarily, which is very notable and curious, I observe that _men
of business rarely know the meaning of the word "rich_." - RUSKIN.
I demurred to this honorary title upon two grounds, - first, as
being one toward which I had no natural aptitudes or predisposing
advantages; secondly (which made her stare), _as carrying with it
no real or enviable distinction_. - DE QUINCEY.
116. In the sentences of Sec. 109, we notice that -
(1) _That_ refers to persons, animals, and things.
(2) It has only one case form, no possessive.
(3) It is the same form for first, second, and third persons.
(4) It has the same form for singular and plural.
It sometimes borrows the possessive _whose_, as in sentence 6, Sec.
109, but this is not sanctioned as good usage.
117. The sentences of Sec. 110 show that -
(1) _What_ always refers to things; is always neuter.
(2) It is used almost entirely in the singular.
1. The man _that_ hath no music in himself,...
Is fit for treasons, stratagems, and spoils.
(3) Its antecedent is hardly ever expressed. When expressed, it
usually follows, and is emphatic; as, for example, -
What I would, _that_ do I not; but what I hate, _that_ do
I. - _Bible_
What fates impose, _that_ men must needs abide. - SHAKESPEARE.
What a man does, _that_ he has. - EMERSON.
Compare this: -
Alas! is _it_ not too true, what we said? - CARLYLE.
DECLENSION OF RELATIVE PRONOUNS.
118. These are the forms of the simple relatives: -
SINGULAR AND PLURAL.
_Nom._ who which that what
_Poss._ whose whose - -
_Obj._ whom which that what
HOW TO PARSE RELATIVES.
119. The _gender_, _number_, and _person_ of the relatives _who_,
_which_, and _that_ must be determined by those of the antecedent; the
_case_ depends upon the function of the relative in its own clause.
For example, consider the following sentence:
"He uttered truths _that_ wrought upon and molded the lives of
those _who_ heard him."
Since the relatives hold the sentence together, we can, by taking them
out, let the sentence fall apart into three divisions: (1) "He uttered
truths;" (2) "The truths wrought upon and molded the lives of the
people;" (3) "These people heard him."
_That_ evidently refers to _truths_, consequently is neuter, third
person, plural number. _Who_ plainly stands for _those_ or _the
people_, either of which would be neuter, third person, plural number.
Here the relative agrees with its antecedent.
We cannot say the relative agrees with its antecedent in _case_.
_Truths_ in sentence (2), above, is subject of _wrought upon and
molded_; in (1), it is object of _uttered_. In (2), _people_ is the
object of the preposition _of_; in (3), it is subject of the verb
_heard_. Now, _that_ takes the case of _the truths_ in (2), not of
_truths_ which is expressed in the sentence: consequently _that_ is in
the nominative case. In the same way _who_, standing for _the people_
understood, subject of _heard_, is in the nominative case.
First find the antecedents, then parse the relatives, in the following
1. How superior it is in these respects to the pear, whose blossoms
are neither colored nor fragrant!
2. Some gnarly apple which I pick up in the road reminds me by its
fragrance of all the wealth of Pomona.
3. Perhaps I talk with one who is selecting some choice barrels for
filling an order.
4. Ill blows the wind that profits nobody.
5. Alas! it is we ourselves that are getting buried alive under this
avalanche of earthly impertinences.
6. This method also forces upon us the necessity of thinking, which
is, after all, the highest result of all education.
7. I know that there are many excellent people who object to the
reading of novels as a waste of time.
8. I think they are trying to outwit nature, who is sure to be
cunninger than they.
[Sidenote: _Parsing_ what, _the simple relative_.]
120. The relative _what_ is handled differently, because it has
usually no antecedent, but is singular, neuter, third person. Its case
is determined exactly as that of other relatives. In the sentence,
"What can't be cured must be endured," the verb _must be endured_ is
the predicate of something. What must be endured? Answer, _What can't
be cured_. The whole expression is its subject. The word _what_,
however, is subject of the verb _can't be cured_, and hence is in the
"What we call nature is a certain self-regulated motion or change."
Here the subject of _is_, etc., is _what we call nature_; but of this,
_we_ is the subject, and _what_ is the direct object of the verb
_call_, so is in the objective case.
[Sidenote: _Another way._]
Some prefer another method of treatment. As shown by the following
sentences, _what_ is equivalent to _that which_: -
It has been said that "common souls pay with _what_ they do,
nobler souls with _that which_ they are." - EMERSON.
_That which_ is pleasant often appears under the name of evil;
and _what_ is disagreeable to nature is called good and
virtuous. - BURKE.
Hence some take _what_ as a double relative, and parse _that_ in the
first clause, and _which_ in the second clause; that is, "common
souls pay with _that_ [singular, object of _with_] _which_ [singular,
object of _do_] they do."
[Sidenote: _List and examples._]
121. INDEFINITE RELATIVES are, by meaning and use, not as direct as
the simple relatives.
They are _whoever_, _whichever_, _whatever_, _whatsoever_; less common
are _whoso_, _whosoever_, _whichsoever_, _whatsoever_. The simple
relatives _who_, _which_, and _what_ may also be used as indefinite
relatives. Examples of indefinite relatives (from Emerson): -
1. _Whoever_ has flattered his friend successfully must at once
think himself a knave, and his friend a fool.
2. It is no proof of a man's understanding, to be able to affirm
_whatever_ he pleases.
3. They sit in a chair or sprawl with children on the floor, or
stand on their head, or _what_ else _soever_, in a new and
4. _Whoso_ is heroic will always find crises to try his edge.
5. Only itself can inspire _whom_ it will.
6. God offers to every mind its choice between truth and repose.
Take _which_ you please, - you cannot have both.
7. Do _what_ we can, summer will have its flies.
[Sidenote: _Meaning and use._]
122. The fitness of the term _indefinite_ here cannot be shown
better than by examining the following sentences: -
1. There is something so overruling in _whatever_ inspires us
with awe, in _all things which_ belong ever so remotely to
terror, that nothing else can stand in their presence. - BURKE.
2. Death is there associated, not with _everything that_ is most
endearing in social and domestic charities, but with _whatever_
is darkest in human nature and in human destiny. - MACAULAY.
It is clear that in 1, _whatever_ is equivalent to _all things
which_, and in 2, to _everything that_; no certain antecedent, no
particular thing, being referred to. So with the other indefinites.
[Sidenote: What _simple relative and_ what _indefinite relative_.]
123. The above helps us to discriminate between _what_ as a simple
and _what_ as an indefinite relative.
As shown in Sec. 120, the simple relative _what_ is equivalent to
_that which_ or the _thing which_, - some particular thing; as shown by
the last sentence in Sec. 121, _what_ means _anything that_,
_everything that_ (or _everything which_). The difference must be seen
by the meaning of the sentence, as _what_ hardly ever has an
The examples in sentences 5 and 6, Sec. 121, show that _who_ and
_which_ have no antecedent expressed, but mean _any one whom_, _either
one that_, etc.
OTHER WORDS USED AS RELATIVES.
[Sidenote: But _and_ as.]
124. Two words, but and as, are used with the force of relative
pronouns in some expressions; for example, -
1. There is not a leaf rotting on the highway _but_ has force in
it: how else could it rot? - CARLYLE.
2. This, amongst such other troubles _as_ most men meet with in
this life, has been my heaviest affliction. - DE QUINCEY.
[Sidenote: _Proof that they have the force of relatives._]
Compare with these the two following sentences: -
3. There is nothing _but_ is related to us, nothing _that_ does
_not_ interest us. - EMERSON.
4. There were articles of comfort and luxury such _as_ Hester
never ceased to use, but _which_ only wealth could have
purchased. - HAWTHORNE.
Sentence 3 shows that _but_ is equivalent to the relative _that_ with
_not_, and that _as_ after _such_ is equivalent to _which_.
For _as_ after _same_ see "Syntax" (Sec. 417).
[Sidenote: _Former use of_ as.]
125. In early modern English, _as_ was used just as we use _that_ or
_which_, not following the word _such_; thus, -
I have not from your eyes that gentleness
And show of love _as_ I was wont to have. - SHAKESPEARE
This still survives in vulgar English in England; for example, -
"Don't you mind Lucy Passmore, _as_ charmed your warts for you
when you was a boy? " - KINGSLEY
This is frequently illustrated in Dickens's works.
[Sidenote: _Other substitutes._]
126. Instead of the phrases _in which_, _upon which_, _by which_,
etc., the conjunctions _wherein_, _whereupon_, _whereby_, etc., are
A man is the facade of a temple _wherein_ all wisdom and good
abide. - EMERSON.
The sovereignty of this nature _whereof_ we speak. - _Id._
The dear home faces _whereupon_
That fitful firelight paled and shone. - WHITTIER.
PRONOUNS IN INDIRECT QUESTIONS.
[Sidenote: _Special caution needed here._]
127. It is sometimes hard for the student to tell a relative from an
interrogative pronoun. In the regular direct question the
interrogative is easily recognized; so is the relative when an
antecedent is close by. But compare the following in pairs: -
1. (_a_) Like a gentleman of leisure _who_ is strolling out for
(_b_) Well we knew _who_ stood behind, though the earthwork hid
2. (_a_) But _what_ you gain in time is perhaps lost in power.
(_b_) But _what_ had become of them they knew not.
3. (_a_) These are the lines _which_ heaven-commanded Toil shows on
(_b_) And since that time I thought it not amiss To judge _which_
were the best of all these three.
In sentences 1 (_a_), 2 (_a_) and 3 (_a_) the regular relative use is
seen; _who_ having the antecedent _gentleman_, _what_ having the
double use of pronoun and antecedent, _which_ having the antecedent
But in 1 (_b_), 2 (_b_), and 3 (_b_), there are two points of
difference from the others considered: first, no antecedent is
expressed, which would indicate that they are not relatives; second, a
question is disguised in each sentence, although each sentence as a
whole is declarative in form. Thus, 1 (_b_), if expanded, would be,
"Who stood behind? We knew," etc., showing that _who_ is plainly
interrogative. So in 2 (_b_), _what_ is interrogative, the full
expression being, "But what had become of them? They knew not."
Likewise with _which_ in 3 (_b_).
[Sidenote: _How to decide._]
In studying such sentences, (1) see whether there is an antecedent of
_who_ or _which_, and whether _what_ = _that_ + _which_ (if so, it is
a simple relative; if not, it is either an indefinite relative or an
interrogative pronoun); (2) see if the pronoun introduces an indirect
question (if it does, it is an interrogative; if not, it is an
[Sidenote: _Another caution._]
128. On the other hand, care must be taken to see whether the
pronoun is the word that really _asks the question_ in an
interrogative sentence. Examine the following: -
1. Sweet rose! whence is this hue
_Which_ doth all hues excel?
2. And then what wonders shall you do
_Whose_ dawning beauty warms us so?
3. Is this a romance? Or is it a faithful picture of _what_ has