Nominal Relative Clauses in English
Nominal Relative Clauses
1. In nominal relative clauses, the relative pronoun acts like a NOUN + RELATIVE PRONOUN TOGETHER.
I need a bed and IKEA had exactly what I was looking for. (=exactly the bed which I was looking for)
2. We do not use another pronoun or relative pronoun with a nominal relative pronoun.
A cheap stylish bed was what I was looking for. Not ... was the thing what I was looking for.
3. What is the most common nominal relative pronoun but we can also use:
I read whatever is available.
Romantic stories are all the same, whoever the author is.
Take whichever book you like, I don't mind.
I read all the time, wherever I am.
Do you remember when you first saw a Shakespeare play?
Is this where they put the classic novel?
Do you know who you're going to meet at the party?
It's interesting to see how people display their books.
Can you explain why you like e-readers?
4. Nominal relative pronouns what, when, where, who and how can be followed by a to infinitive.
We couldn't work out how to assemble the bookcase.
I don't know where to find the books I wanted.
I was so confused, but I didn't know what to do.
I don't know who to give this book to.
Mary doesn't know when to stop talking.
5. Nominal relative pronoun what can be followed by a noun.
What enjoyment we had came from books. (What = "all the enjoyment" but it suggests that there wasn't much enjoyment.)
6. We can use which to refer to a whole clause, not just the preceding noun.
He went to see a speech and language therapist, which was a major breakthrough.