Spanish Relative Pronouns  

Relative Pronouns and Adjectives

The Relative Pronouns are:

Sing. Plu.
Quien Quienes (who, whom)
El cual Los cuales (who, whom or which)
La cual Las cuales
Que (that)
Cuyo Cuyos (whose, or of which (denoting
Cuya Cuyas possession)

Quien is used for persons only.
El cual and que are used for persons and things.

Examples:

  • El agente á quien (or al cual) hemos escrito: The agent to whom we have written.
  • ¿Son aquéllas las partidas de azúcares de las cuales me habló V. ayer? Are those the lots of sugar of which you spoke to me yesterday?
  • Me acuerdo de las personas y las cosas que V. ha mencionado: I remember the people and things that you mentioned.
  • El buque cuya tripulación ha desembarcado: The ship whose crew has landed.
  • El comerciante á cuyo hijo hemos conocido: The merchant whose son we have known.

Que is used very often instead of quien and el cual. Que is to be preferred when the clause following is a mere complement of the principal clause (preceding), and Quien or El cual only when the following clause is considered not less in importance than the clause preceding, viz., when it introduces a new idea,[1] as:

  • ¿Ha visto V. al viajante que nos visitó esta mañana? Have you seen the traveller who called on us this morning?
  • He conocido al banquero quien era hombre muy juicioso y prudente: I knew the banker who was a very wise and prudent man.
Footnote 1: This is practically saying: after a comma, only the use of the comma is so arbitrary that we preferred to explain the rule fully.
After ser and a noun or pronoun, translate "who" by quien, as:
  • Es él (Carlos) quien me lo ha dicho: It is he (Charles) who told it to me.

After a preposition translate "whom" by quien (pl., quienes)[2], and "which" by el cual (la cual, etc.).

Footnote 2: "Que" is found but rarely.
Exception:
After á, con, de, en, we can also translate "which" equally well by que, or el que, la que, los que, las que.[3]
Footnote 3: "Que" or "El que" is found also after other prepositions but rarely.]

"Which" relating to a whole sentence is lo cual or lo que (naturally, because a whole sentence has no gender).

Instead of cuyo we may use de quien, del cual, de que, del que, as:

  • El buque, la tripulación del cual, de que, or del que ha desembarcado: The ship whose crew has landed.
  • El comerciante al hijo de quien, or del cual hemos conocido: The merchant whose son we have known.

"He who" is translated by aquel que, el que,[4] also quien.

"She who" is translated by aquella que, la[4] que, also quien.

"Those who" is translated by aquellos que, los[4] que, also quienes.

Footnote 4: See Lesson XII.
Relative Pronouns cannot be left out, understood, in Spanish, as:
  • El hombre á quien, or que ví: The man I saw.

Expressions as "The man I spoke to" must, of course, be rendered "The man to whom I spoke" (El hombre á quien hablé).

Expressions as "I recommend you Messrs. So-and-So than which no better firm exists," are rendered "Le recomiendo á V. la casa de los Srs. Fulanos de Tal que no la hay mejor (or de la cual, or de la que no hay otra mejor)".




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