Difference between relative pronouns and adverbs

Relative pronouns and relative adverbs are relating subordinating connectors used to introduce relative clauses. Relative pronouns used to relate pronouns such as which, that and who. Whereas, Relative adverbs relate place, reason, time. Both need antecedents as well. For more, let’s see difference between relative pronouns and adverbs.

Relative pronouns and adverbs difference

First of all, let’s see the function of Relative pronouns.

Relative pronouns

  1. Which
  2. That
  3. Who
  4. What

These are used to relate antecedents to join subordinating clauses in complex sentences.

They are also called adjective clause as they do work of adjectives. Relative pronouns function like subject, object, or complements of subject or object.

Compound forms of relative pronouns can be created by adding ever, so ever, etc. For example,

  1. Whosoever
  2. Whatever
  3. Whichever

Restrictive and non-restrictive form of clauses can be introduced by the relative pronouns.

Relative pronouns cannot be changed as per the number, gender of the relating antecedents.

Relative adverbs

  1. When
  2. Where
  3. Why
  4. How

These are some vital relative adverbs used to relate antecedents time, place, manner, cause, etc. to join relating clauses to main clause.

Like, relative pronouns, relative adverbs have also compound forms such as, whenever, wherever etc.

Relative adverbs are used to introduce adjective subordinating clause as they relate antecedents more specifically.

Relative adverbs, similar to relative pronouns, introduce restrictive and non-restrictive form of clause.

Similarities of relative pronouns and relative adverbs

  1. Both relates antecedents
  2. They are used to introduce adjective
  3. Compound forms of both possible in the same manner.
  4. Restrictive and non-restrictive forms are common
  5. Comma is used in the both forms in case of non-restrictive

Differences of relative pronouns and adverbs

Relative pronouns are used to relate the antecedents in the form of person, things, and animals in the main clause.

Whereas, relative adverbs are used to relate antecedents in the form of time, place, and reason.

This is the only noticeable difference between relative pronoun and adverbs.

Examples of relative pronouns

  • I always remember the people who helped us in need. (for person- nominative case)
  • He is the man whose pocket was lost. (for person- possessive case)
  • You know the farmer whom we helped. (for person – objective case)
  • There are a lot of animals which suffer from water scarcity in summer. (for animals)
  • The pen which you gifted me, is now lost. (for things – broken clause)
  • The lake, which we saw last time, is totally dried. (for thing – non-restrictive)

Examples of relative adverbs

  • This is the place where I learned to drive. (place as antecedents)
  • June, when monsoon arrives, is the best month to swim.  (time non-restrictive)
  • Antarctica where temperature is too low is the best place for polar bear. (place)
  • Equatorial region, where rainfall is heavy, is the difficult place to live. (place non-restrictive)
  • The Sevagram Ashram where Mahatma Gandhi lived is a very inspirational place. (place)
  • I think there must be some problem why she refused to go. (reason)
  • Can you teach me the method how swimming is mastered? (manner)

There are less differences but more similarities between relative pronouns and adverbs in terms of use and role.

The only noticeable difference between relative pronouns and adverbs is that one relates things, and other time, place, manner.

As soon as conjunction of time

Difference between when and if conjunctions

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