Reading / speaking / listening – matching exercise

Relative pronouns are used to add more information about the key nouns in a sentence. If there is a word that you cannot remember or do not know you can describe the word using relative clauses instead.

For example:

    1. “I’d like to buy one of those tools that woodworkers or carpenters use for knocking nails into wood.”

    This sentence could replace:

    2. “I’d like to buy a hammer.”

In the first sentence the relative pronoun that is used to introduce more information about the tool. This tool, the hammer, is described in terms of who uses it and in terms of what it is used for. Different relative pronouns are used for different subjects and objects. See the table below.

Type of Noun Replaced Subject Pronoun Object Pronoun Possessive Pronoun
People who whom, who whose
Things which which whose
People or Things that that

We use who, whom and whose for people, and which for things.

We use that for people or things.



Guess the words in the example sentences that are described by phrases in bold. Say both sets of sentences then listen to check the answers.

Example Sentences :

1. Have you got the thing that John was using yesterday for digging the garden?
2. I’m looking for a shop that sells medicine.
3. Is that the lady who works in the hospital?
4. Did you go to the building which has thousands of books to borrow?
5. I’d like to meet the person whose job it is to help Justin learn English.

Speaking / listening exercise

When using relative clauses to describe words that you don’t know or can’t remember it is useful to think about items in terms of people who use them, where they are used, what they are used for and how they are used. It is also useful to think about people in terms of what they do, where they work or live, who they are in relation to others and what they wear.

Exercise 1


  1. What’s the word for a person who works in the library?.
  2. What’s the term for meat that/which comes from cows?
  3. I can’t remember the word that/which describes people who come from Spain.
  4. What’s the expression to describe someone who is eighty years of age?
  5. What is the position of the footballer whose job it is to stand in the goal mouth and stop the ball with his hands?


Exercise 2


Describe the items in the pictures. Consider using the general term, use, location, purpose, method etc.





Copyright free images from:


Possible Descriptions:

  1. It’s a piece of jewelry that/which the queen or king wears on their heads.
  2. It’s a place that/which is used for prayer by Muslims.
  3. It’s a hand-tool that/which is used for cutting paper or fabric.
  4. It’s paper that/which is used for sending letters in.
  5. It’s an animal that/which lives in the woods and is very shy.
  6. It’s a bird that/which has big claws and eats meat.
  7. It’s a metal object that/which is used to lock things.
  8. It’s a picture on packets that/which gives us information about the product inside.
  9. It’s the black and white part of a piano that/which the player touches.

Hide Possible Descriptions

Suggested follow-up activities –Speaking

Task - Twenty Questions Guessing Game


Individually, collect pictures of everyday things, people or places. Find out what they are called in English by preparing and asking questions that practice using relative clauses.

(Optional Follow-up Activity)

With a friend(s), each person can ask 20 questions to find out about each others’ hidden image and guess what it is. The picture can only be shown if the correct answer is given or the questioner runs out of questions.

The first questions using relative pronouns are usually quite general:

Is it something that we use every day? Yes / No

Is it someone who is famous? Yes/No

Is it someone whose job takes them all over the world? Yes/No

The later or final questions using relative pronouns are usually much more specific:

Is it a tool that is used for peeling potatoes? Yes/No

Is it the actress who was married to Tom Cruise? Yes/No

Is it someone whose job it is to look after others? Yes/No

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