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Relative Pronouns

This lesson includes information on:

  1. Relative Pronouns
  2. Que + Antecedent + Relative Pronoun
  3. Antecedent + Comma + Relative Pronoun
  4. Antecedent + Preposition + Relative Pronoun
  5. Antecedent + To be + El que
  6. Antecedent + Antecedent + El cual
  7. Lo Que and Lo Cual
  8. Cuyo
  9. Cuanto and Todo Lo Que
  10. Donde

1.  Relative Pronouns

Relative pronouns are used to relate the end proposition with the antecedent.

Relative Pronouns in Spanish are:




That, who, whom, which


Who/whom/he, she, who


Who/whom/those who

El que

Which, whom

El cual

The one that

Lo que

Which, that which

Lo cual

Which, whom, the ones who, the one who, those that (who)


Which, whose


All those, that

Todo lo que

All those, that


Where, which


One can also use a relative pronoun following a preposition.  For example:

·         Ha decidido viajar por tres meses, en cuyadecisión no debemos opinar.  (She has decided to travel for three months, about whose decision we should not give an opinion.)


2.  Que + Antecedent + Relative Pronoun    


a)      When the relative is a person or a thing


b)      Where the relative continues directly without a comma or a preposition from the antecedent


For example:

  • El libro queme diste es muy interesante. (The book that you gave me is interesting.) 

3.  Antecedent + Comma + Relative Pronoun


a)      Can be used with que, quien, or el cual

b)      Refers to people or things

c)      Expresses a selection among various persons or things


For example:


  • La chica, quefue a ver la película con Juan, viene hoy.  (The girl, that went to see a movie with John, comes today.) 
  • La comida, la cualpreparamos ayer, es mi preferida.  (The food, which we prepared yesterday, is my favorite.)



4.  Antecedent + Preposition + Relative Pronoun


a)      Can be used with quien, el cual, and el que 

b)      Can be used with people or things followed by any preposition

c)      Can use que after the prepositions a, con, de, or en

d)      Following complex prepositions use the relative pronoun el cual.


For example:


  • El estudiante de quiente hablé ayer es muy inteligente.(The student about whom I spoke yesterday is very intelligent.) 
  • La silla en que me senté se rompió.  (The chair in which I sat broke.)
  • La librería la cualestá detrás del hospital es lo mejor de la ciudad.  (The bookstore which is behind the hospital is the best in the city.) 


5.  Antecedent + To be + El que

a)      Refers to people or things

b)      The relative pronouns el que and los que can only be used with the verb ser

For example:

  • Ese chico es el queme llamó ayer.(This boy is the one that called me yesterday.)


6.  Antecedent + Antecedent + El cual

a)      Refers to people or things   

b)      El cualis used to distinguish with whom we are speaking when there are two antecedents

For example:

  • La amiga de Jorge, la cualestuvo en la fiesta ayer, tuvo un accidente.  (Jorge’s friend, the one who was at the party yesterday, had an accident.) 


7.  Lo Que and Lo Cual

Lo queand lo cual are:

a)      Invariable and neutral    

b)      Only used where the antecedent is an idea or sentence 

For example:

  • Escribí un libro sobre la vida en Guatemala, lo cual tuvo éxito por todo el mundo.  (I wrote a book about life in Guatemala, which was successful around the world.)


8.  Cuyo


a)      Is used to modify a word because it works like an adjective

b)      Is variable

c)      Agrees in gender and number with the word it is modifying

d)      Is used to indicate possession 

For example:

  • La casa, cuyo techo es de Madera, es muy grande. (The house, whose roof is made of wood, is very big.)


9.  Cuanto and Todo Lo Que

Cuantomeans the same as todo lo que.  They:

a)      Express quantity 

b)      Refer to a specified antecedent 

c)      Are used to modify a word because they work like adjectives

d)      Are variable

e)      Are in agreement with the gender and number of the word they are modifying

For example:

  • Fuimos al Mercado; compramos todo lo que (cuanto) pudimos.  (We went to the market; we bought all that we could.)


10.  Donde

a)      Is a relative pronoun that expresses place 

b)      Is invariable 

For example:

  • Esta es la escuela dondeestudié español el año pasado.  (This is the school where I studied Spanish last year.)