A relative pronoun (pronombre relativo) always refers to a noun or a pronoun previously mentioned in the sentence.
It is a link or connector between sentences or clauses.
There are five different types of relative pronouns:
"Que" is the equivalent of "that" and it is never omitted in Spanish.
It refers to people, animals, things, ideas or events in the singular or plural.
|subject of the clause||La mujer que acaba de irse es mi madre.||The woman who has just gone away is my mother.|
|object of the clause||Te recomiendo al albañil que llamamos ayer.||I recommend to you the bricklayer whom we called yesterday.|
The English pronouns "who" and "whom" are the equivalents of "quien" and the plural form "quienes".
Quien is commonly used in the written language and it might replace "que" when referring to a person.
|subject of a verb||Felipe, quien* acaba de casarse con mi tía, es periodista.||Felipe, who has just got married with my aunt, is a journalist.|
|object of a verb||Acabo de encontrar a Luis, a quien* llamé anoche.||I have just met Luis, whom I called yesterday.|
* The clause introduced with quien or quienes is separated from the main clause with commas.
"El que" and "el cual" correspond to "that", "which", "who" and "whom".
|Masculine singular||Feminine singular||Masculine plural||Feminine plural|
|el que||la que||los que||las que|
|el cual||la cual||los cuales||las cuales|
|subject of the verb||El autor de Cien años de soledad es Gabriel García Marquez, el cual escribió otras novelas.||The author of One hundred years of solitude is Gabriel García Marquez, who wrote other novels.|
|object of the verb||Saludamos a Hector, al que encontramos ayer.||We said hello to Hector, whom we met yesterday.|
"Quien" and "el que" may be used as the indefinite subject of a verb and they correspond to "he who".
Quien espera, desespera.
He who waits, loses hope:
El que espera, desespera.
"Lo que" and "lo cual" are neuter relative pronouns and they correspond to "that which", "which", "what" or "whatever".
|referring to a statement, concept or idea previously mentioned||Tengo que ir a casa de mis suegros, lo que me irrita.||I have to go to my parents-in-law' house, which irritates me.|
referring to a statement, concept or idea previously discussed
|Lo que te dije, no va a suceder.||What I told you is not going to happen.|
"Cuyo" means "whose" and it refers to people and things.
It precedes the noun it modifies and it must agree in gender and number with that noun.
When relative pronouns follow a preposition, they serve as object of a verb.
|any||Juan es un hombre en el cual se puede confiar. (Juan is a man whom you can trust.)|
- Ése es el coche en que chocaron. (That is the car in which they crashed.)
- Ésta es la mujer de que hablamos. (This is the woman about whom we talked.)
|quien||any||El hombre con quien se casó Lucía es de Santander. (The man whom Lucía married is from Santander.)|
* "Que" may follow the preposition "con" if it does not refer to a person.
Mencionaste un objetivo con el cual estoy de acuerdo. (You mentioned a target with which I agree.)
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