Nouns are defined in traditional grammars as words that people, places, things, and ideas. A subcategory of nouns, pronouns are traditionally defined as small words take the place of nouns, noun phrases, noun clauses, and other grammatical forms. Relative pronouns are both a type of pronoun that take the place of another word, phrase, or clause and a type of subordinating conjunction that introduce adjective, or relative, clauses. The relative pronouns in English are who, whom, that, which, Ø (null relative pronoun), and whose (as well as the relative adverbs when, where, and why).
In grammar, an indirect object is word, phrase, or clause that indicates to or for whom or what the action of a ditransitive verb is performed. The five relative pronouns that can function as the indirect object of an adjective clause are that, whom, which, Ø and informally who. Examples of relative pronouns as indirect objects include the following:
- He does not know the woman that he bought the coffee yesterday.
- Paul, whom David passed the ball, plays professional soccer.
- The rug, which Grandma gave a good beating, once belonged to a prince.
- The man Ø my dad sold our old car lives just down the street.
- My son is the little boy who the librarian is reading a book.
Relative Pronoun as Indirect Object
Brinton, Laurel J. & Donna M. Brinton. 2010. The linguistic structure of Modern English, 2nd edn. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Company.
Hopper, Paul J. 1999. A short course in grammar. New York: W. W. Norton & Company.
Huddleston, Rodney. 1984. Introduction to the grammar of English. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.