English Grammar: How to Use Relative Pronouns Where/When/Whose in Adjective Clauses

English Level: Intermediate, Upper-Intermediate

Language Focus: An explanation of how to use the relative pronouns where, when, and whose. Includes several exercises.

Worksheet Downloadadjective-clause-worksheet-esl.docx (scroll down to study the exercises online)n

Jump to: Relative Pronouns Where/When, Relative Pronoun WhoseFinal Exercises

Note: An adjective clause and relative clause are the same. We will use the word adjective clause.

This is the second lesson on adjective clauses. There are three lessons in this unit:

  1. Lesson 1: Making adjective clauses with subject and object relative pronouns
  2. Lesson 2: Using the relative pronouns where, when, and which
  3. Lesson 3: Punctuating adjective clauses (with commas)

In our previous lesson, we learned how to use the relative pronouns 'who/whom/that/which' in adjective clauses. This lesson will focus on where, when, and whose.

Before we go further, let's review the relative pronouns.

Relative Pronouns for Adjective Clauses



subject and object pronoun for people only. (*whom can be used as an object relative pronoun.)

E.g. The man who(m) I saw was old.

thatsubject and object pronoun for people and things.

E.g. The book that I saw was red.

whichsubject and object pronoun for things only.

E.g. The book, which I saw, was red.

whoseused for possessions.

E.g. The man whose house was for sale was old.

whereused for places.

E.g. The restaurant where we met was downtown.

whenused for times.

E.g. The day when we met was cloudy.


Adjective Clauses: Using When as a Relative Pronoun

'Where' is used for places, of course. But sometimes places can be things. This can be confusing. Let's look at two examples.

John lives in a town. The town is near the ocean.

Now, the first step in making an adjective clause is finding a word in each sentence that refers to the same thing.

John lives in a town. The town is near the ocean.

The next step is replacing the second word ('The town') with a relative pronoun (who/whom/that/which/where/when/whose).

Which relative pronoun are we going to use?  Well, 'The town' is a place, but in the sentence, The town is near the ocean, the words 'The town' are the subject. This means we should use a subject relative pronoun, which are who/that/which. Because 'The town' is the subject and a thing, we'll use that or which.

John lives in a town. [that/which] is near the ocean.

Next, we would move the {adjective clause} behind the noun it modifies (a town), but it is already in the right place. So the full sentence looks like this:

John lives in a town {which is near the ocean}.

So When Do We Use the Relative Pronouns Where (and When)?

We only use where or when to replace words that are not the subjects of a sentence. Here's an example:

John lives in a town. He works in the town.

If we look at the second sentence, He works in the town, we can see that the subject is 'He'. The word town is not the subject and it is not the object of a verb either. It is an adverb of place.

Rule: When the place or time is not the subject or object, then you can use the relative pronouns where and when.

Let's continue following our steps.

Step 2: Replace the second word with a relative pronoun.

John lives in a town. He works in the town WHERE.

Step 3: Move the relative pronoun to the beginning of the second sentence/clause.

John lives in a town. WHERE He works in the town.

Step 4: Move the {adjective clause} behind the noun it modifies.

John lives in a town {where he works}.


A seaside town, where we practice adjective clauses

John lives in a town where he works. Maybe he is a fisherman. 

That's it. You might have noticed that if the noun (e.g. 'town') has prepositions or articles (e.g. 'in the') that belong to it, then we remove the prepositions or articles too.

Let's do another example with a time.

I love spring. The birds sing songs in spring.

Step 1: Find two words that refer to the same thing in each sentence.

I love spring. The birds sing songs in spring.

So, let's look at the sentence, The birds sing songs in spring.

  • Is spring the subject? (No -- 'The birds' is the subject)
  • Is spring the object of a verb (No -- the noun 'songs' is the object of the verb 'sing')

Okay, so then we can use the relative pronoun 'when'.

Step 2: Replace the noun with the relative pronoun.

I love spring. The birds sing songs in spring WHEN.

Step 3: Move the noun to the beginning of the clause.

I love springWHEN the birds sing songs in spring .

Step 4: Move the {adjective clause} behind the noun it modifies

I love spring {when the birds sing songs}.


To summarize, we do not use when and where to replace subjects or objects. We use them to replace adverbs (of time or place).

Quickly, let's look at two sentences that refer to the same 'house'. How would we combine them?

I live in a house. The house has a swimming pool. ('House' is a subject in the second sentence).

= I live in a house {that/which has a swimming pool}.

I live in a house. I bought the house. ('house' is the object of the verb bought in the second sentence).

= I live in a house {that/which/(nothing) I bought}.

I live in a house. My wife also lives in the house. ('house' is not a subject or an object here (it is an adverb).)

= I live in a house {where my wife also lives}.

The rules are the same for when.

Note: We can also replace adverbs like 'here' or 'then' with relative pronouns. For example.

I can meet you tomorrow. I'll be free then.

What does 'then' refer to? Tomorrow. So, we can replace it with the relative pronoun 'when', and make a complex sentence with an adjective clause:

I can meet you tomorrow {when I'll be free}.

Let's practice.

Exercise #1 - Making Adjective Clauses with Where and When

Change the second sentence into an adjective clause, and then add it to the first sentence.

1. There are a lot of shopping malls downtown. I want to live downtown.
Show Answer

2. My best friend lives in the town. + I was born there.

Show Answer

3. On Friday it was raining. We met on Friday.

Show Answer

4. Let's meet early next week. I will have more time then.

Show Answer

5. The Internet is huge. You can find anything you want on the Internet.

Show Answer


Note: You may have noticed that sometimes I have put commas in the answers. You can learn about how to use commas in adjective clauses in the next lesson on defining and non-defining adjective clauses.

Exercise #2 - Choose the Correct Relative Pronoun

In the next exercise, you will select a correct relative pronoun. Scroll up and re-read the table if you need to review which pronouns are used for subjects, objects, or other (adverbs).

For example:

October is a month ___ is in autumn.

If we look at ” ___ is in autumn”, we can see that it is missing a subject, so we need a subject relative pronoun (that/which).

October is a month ___ I love.

If we look at “___ I love”, we can see that there is already a subject (“I”). Also, October is what you love (it is the object of the verb). So we use an object relative pronoun (that/which/(nothing)).

October is the month __ I met Jill.

If we look at "___ I met Jill", we can see that there is already a subject ("I") and already an object (Jill is the object of met). So, we can use a pronoun for an adverb (when/where)

Give it a try!

  1. The house  I want to buy is too expensive.
  2. The house  I was born is in a small town.
  3. The house  burned down was on Main Street.
  4. That was a time  I needed to be patient.
  5. That was a time  I will always remember.
  6. That was a time  was difficult to forget.



  1. 1998 was the year  I got married.
  2. Friday is the day  I love the most.
  3. I hid the food  the dog couldn't find it.
  4. I heard the news in the morning  I was brushing my teeth.
  5. The Nile is the river  flows through twelve African countries.
  6. We saw the island  Napoleon had lived.



Let's learn one more thing before we do more exercises.

Adjective Clauses: Whose as a Relative Pronoun

Whose is another relative pronoun that is not used for objects or subjects. It is used for possessions. For example:

The boy stood up. The teacher had called his name.

Step 1: What is the same here in these two sentences? Well, none of the words are. However, 'his' refers to the 'boy', which is the first sentence, so we can make an adjective clause.

The boy stood up. The teacher had called his name.

Step 2: Replace the second word with the correct relative pronoun -- here will use 'whose' because the name belongs to the boy (it's his possession).

The boy stood up. The teacher had called hisWHOSE name.

Step 3: Move the relative pronoun (whose) and the noun it modifies to the beginning of the clause.

The boy stood up {WHOSE name the teacher had called}.

Step 4: Move the {adjective clause} behind the noun it describes (the boy)

The boy {whose name the teacher had called} stood up.

That's it. It's the same basically, except you move the relative pronoun whose and the noun it modifies. Let's do some exercises.


Exercise #4 - Making Adjective Clauses with the Pronoun Whose

1. That's the actress. Her husband was in the movie.

Show Answer

2. There were students at the party. I didn't know their names.

Show Answer

3. She works at a bank. Its head office is on Queen St.

Show Answer

4. Susie is my friend. You met her parents last night.

Show Answer

5. I met two people from Japan yesterday. Their names were Mai and Yuko.

Show Answer

Now, it's time for our final exercises. Let's bring it all together.

Exercise #5 - Places, Times, and Possessives in Adjective Clause

Change the second sentence into adjective clauses. Use subject relative pronouns (who/that/which), object relative pronouns (whom/that/which), as well as use when/where/whose.

Don't worry about commas now if you haven't studied them yet.

1. I study at a college. It has many courses.

Show Answer

2. I was born in 1978. My best friend Jay was born in 1978.

Show Answer

3. The people were very welcoming. We visited their house.

Show Answer

4. Cheryl's family goes camping every August. She loves August.

Show Answer

5. 11:30 is the time. My flight departs then.

Show Answer

6. September is busy at the college. It is the beginning of the fall semester.

Show Answer

7. The man yelled at me. I hit his car with my car.

Show Answer

8. The company sells baked goods. I applied to work there once.

Show Answer

Exercise #6 - Select the Correct Relative Pronoun

  1. My wife,  name is Margaret, likes to travel.
  2. We went on a trip last summer,  I wasn't working.
  3. We visited a park  had a beautiful garden.
  4. We sat in the garden  we could also see birds.
  5. I saw a beautiful bird  feathers were purple and red.
  6. On that day, we met a nice Swedish couple  English was quite good.
  7. They invited us to visit them in the Swedish countryside  they had a big house.
  8. I told them that maybe we could visit them next year  we should have free time.



I hope you now understand how to use the relative pronouns where, when, and whose. It's not easy. If you were confused, please review the first lesson on subject and object relative pronouns.

If you have any questions or if you find a mistake, please leave a comment below.

-- Matthew Barton (copyright) / Creator of Englishcurrent.com

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31 comments on “English Grammar: How to Use Relative Pronouns Where/When/Whose in Adjective Clauses

  1. AHMED TANTOON (Posted on 3-26-2020 at 10:43) Reply

    I have done these exercises. It is really helpful.

  2. T_Y (Posted on 4-27-2020 at 11:11) Reply


    1. zxywdyt (Posted on 10-28-2023 at 10:06) Reply

      the excersices was really help. ive done at this part. thnk uuu

  3. Abdi (Posted on 11-8-2020 at 08:29) Reply

    Great resources to learn grammar. I liked.

  4. Tuul (Posted on 11-15-2020 at 11:41) Reply

    i have learned adjective clause, thanks a lot dear, good lesson for me

  5. Lily (Posted on 12-3-2020 at 21:03) Reply

    The way to teach the grammar, it’s easy understand and very helpful!! Thanks!!

  6. Naser. (Posted on 12-22-2020 at 21:20) Reply

    That was a good grammar and exercises.

  7. Anonymous (Posted on 2-25-2021 at 21:52) Reply

    I visited Alex in 1999,,,,,,I visited many places there
    What Is the answer , please

    1. mb Post author (Posted on 2-26-2021 at 09:37) Reply

      You cannot combine these because the second sentence does not refer to anything in the first sentence. The word ‘there’ is in the second sentence, but what does it refer to? I don’t know. There’s no place mentioned in the first sentence (unless ‘Alex’ is a place, and not a person’s name)

  8. Farhad (Posted on 3-27-2021 at 13:25) Reply

    I am not sure, but I think there is a small error in one of the above questions I have cony pasted below.
    Exercise #1 question # 4: Let’s meet early next when(,) when I will have more time.

    1. mb Post author (Posted on 3-27-2021 at 13:34) Reply

      Thanks! Fixed.

  9. Diti (Posted on 9-5-2021 at 07:11) Reply

    When I’m clicking on Show Answers, the answers are not showing up.

    1. mb Post author (Posted on 9-5-2021 at 14:05) Reply

      Hello. I assume you were using a mobile phone and viewing the AMP version of the page (which disables Javacript). I have disabled AMP for this page; it should work for you now (though it will load slower on mobile).

      1. Nasib (Posted on 2-12-2022 at 05:33) Reply


  10. H’A Há»’ BUILDER (Posted on 9-23-2021 at 00:35) Reply

    Thanks so much. A great lesson.

  11. Unknown user69 (Posted on 1-12-2022 at 00:06) Reply

    Good exercise and good for and me and my teacher
    He doesn”t have to dwell on internet for the exercise.

  12. Anonymous (Posted on 2-16-2022 at 18:43) Reply

    Good exercise!!!

  13. LJDemissie (Posted on 2-19-2022 at 07:49) Reply

    Thank you for your great lessons. Regarding adjective clauses, your lessons are the best I’ve ever seen so far because of your step-by-step explanations.

    I noted a miss explanation in one of your examples above which I copied and pasted below. My comment is, in the sentence below, sing is an intransitive verb because of that it doesn’t have an object. If my remark is incorrect, please correct me: [removed]

    “So, let’s look at the sentence, The birds sing in spring.”

    “Is spring the subject? (No — ‘The birds’ is the subject)”
    “Is spring the object of a verb (No — the noun ‘songs’ is the object of the verb ‘sing’)”

    1. mb Post author (Posted on 2-22-2022 at 22:23) Reply

      Hello. I’m glad you liked the page. There was a little error in that example–I forgot to include the object ‘songs’ after sing, which makes it a little confusing. With the object, it is clearer that ‘sing’ is a transitive verb (sing can both be intransitive or transitive). Thank you for the comment.

  14. bkaebel (Posted on 2-23-2022 at 05:38) Reply

    How do you reconcile your claim that “We only use where or when to replace words that are not the subjects of a sentence” with your first example of “Relative Pronouns for Adjective Clauses,” namely, “The day when we met was cloudy”?

    1. mb Post author (Posted on 2-23-2022 at 12:41) Reply

      “When we met” = replaces ‘then’, which is an adverb. Without combining with a subordinate clause, the two sentences would look like this: “The day was cloudy. We met then.”

  15. Helen (Posted on 4-29-2022 at 20:03) Reply

    Hi, I have a question about the use of when/that when it comes to describe “time”.
    1. At the time (that) he first introduced it
    2. At the time when he first introduced it
    3. The year he was born
    4. The year when he was born
    Which is correct?

    1. mb Post author (Posted on 4-30-2022 at 13:38) Reply

      Hello. All of those phrases are possible ways to start a sentence. When working with adjective clauses, we are reducing two sentences into one. What two sentences are you combining? Also, what is the full sentence that it results in? You’ve only given me short phrases.

      Looking at #3, that could be a reduction of this: “The year was terrible. It was the year he was born.” < Here, "It" is the subject of the sentence, so you can use 'that/which' or omit it. Looking at #4, that could be a reduction of this: "The year was terrible. He was born then." < Here, 'then' refers to 'the year', and 'then' is an adverb, so you'd need to use when (i.e. not a subject relative pronoun). In short, all phrases are possible.

  16. Mia (Posted on 11-10-2022 at 18:08) Reply

    thanks, useful exercises, these are good practice for a test for our English class.

  17. Visitor (Posted on 2-14-2023 at 20:50) Reply

    It was very useful for those who want to learn about adjective clauses. Good explanations and exercises. thanks a bunch.

  18. maryam . (Posted on 5-28-2023 at 20:08) Reply

    this homework was very useful and it was a very good practice for me i did some mistakes but the good thing is that i could make sure of the correct answer.

  19. maryam (Posted on 6-4-2023 at 19:22) Reply

    good English grammar practice :)

  20. maryam (Posted on 6-4-2023 at 19:24) Reply

    good practice, it made me remember some english grammar and practice it more

  21. maryam (Posted on 6-4-2023 at 19:25) Reply

    i did not have any mistakes, i did a good job, it was easy

  22. madina (Posted on 2-23-2024 at 14:59) Reply


  23. Irma (Posted on 5-15-2024 at 18:36) Reply

    I need a few exercises for me to practice

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