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Error Spotting Part 11

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If you are preparing for competitive exams of Banking, SSC, etc. like (IBPS Clerk, IBPS PO, SBI Clerk, SBI PO, SSC CGL, SSC CHSL, RRB NTPC, RBI, LIC AAO, etc.) you will encounter English Language and Comprehension sections. One of the most important aspects of the English section, in any exam, is to learn to Spot Errors and Correct Sentences. These Error Spotting and Sentence Correction GrammarCapsules are aimed at helping you learn a little bit of Grammar every day. Let us start with Error Spotting Capsule 11 which deals with the concept of “ Relative Pronouns“. You can even download Error Spotting Capsule 11 as PDF.

‘What’ as Relative Pronoun – Error Spotting Capsule 11

In Error Spotting Capsule 9 – Relative Pronouns Part 1, we learned what is a relative pronoun and the two main confusing cases of relative pronouns – ‘which’ vs ‘that’ and ‘who’ vs ‘whom’. In this part, we will deal with ‘what’, ‘when’, ‘where’ and ‘why’ as relative pronouns.

Note → ‘What’ as a relative pronoun is used with ideas and things.


  1. She said thisIt made me cry.
    What she said made me cry.
  2. You want something. We can’t give you that.
    We can’t give you what you want.

In the first example, “What she said made me cry”, what indicates the idea she conveyed through words. In the second example, “We can’t give you what you want”, what indicates a thing, maybe a pen, cash or some favor.

When conjunctions can’t be used to
join two sentences, we use ‘What’.

‘Where’, ‘When’ & ‘Why’ as Relative Pronoun

There is no place for ‘where’, ‘when’ and ‘why’ as relative pronouns in the formal English though we often use them in informal situations which almost make us believe they are formal relative pronouns. But, they are not!

Case #1) ‘Where’ as a relative pronoun – Places

Informal: This is the place where I met him for the first time.
Formal: This is the place at which I met him for the first time.

Informal: The Eastern Himalaya mostly consists of evergreen forests where there is no seasonal loss of leaves.
Formal: The Eastern Himalaya mostly consists of evergreen forests in which there is no seasonal loss of leaves.

Case #2) ‘When’ as a relative pronoun – Times

Informal: The day when I joined my office in Delhi was awesome.
Formal: The day on which I joined my office in Delhi was awesome.

Case #3) ‘Why’ as a relative pronoun – ‘Reasons’

Informal: Do you know the reason why she quit the job?
Formal: Do you know the reason for which she quit the job?


What happened to her that she left the job?
AND NOT: What happened to her why she left the job?

Never replace “that” with “why”


Spot the error in the following sentences

  1. I can’t give which you want.
  2. This is the place at which Picasso lived.
  3. The day in which I went to see Jane…

Here are the explanations!

    1. I can’t give which what you want.
      Here, the complete meaning is ‘I can’t give you the thing that you want’. 
    2. This is the place at in which Picasso lived.
      At, as a preposition of place, is usually used to talk about the position of someone or something inside small and unimportant places. This is the place of a great artist – it’s important.
    3. The day in on which I went to see Jane…
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