Relative pronouns

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Remark: most of the examples below come from printed literature.

Polish relative pronouns are homonymic with interrogative ones generally, and both groups are sometimes hard to be distinguished. There also exists a class of relative indefinite pronouns which are homonymic with plain indefinite ones. Below we will try to formulate criteria helpful for distinguishing these classes and we will analyse a number of instructive examples.

The following pronouns can occur in the relative function: kto, co, jaki, który, czyj, co, ile, ilekroć, ilokrotny, iloraki, ilorako, jak, gdzie, skąd, dokąd, którędy, kędy, kiedy, gdy, odkąd, jak długo, dopóki, dlaczego, czemu, ktokolwiek, cokolwiek, jakikolwiek, którykolwiek, czyjkolwiek, ilekolwiek, jakkolwiek, gdziekolwiek, skądkolwiek, dokądkolwiek, którędykolwiek, kiedykolwiek.

Occuring of relative pronouns

Relative pronouns commence subordinate clauses, they do not normally occur either in simple sentences or in main clauses. Similar restrictions do not concern interrogative or plain indefinite pronouns.

Special forms of relative pronouns

Even if relative and interrogative pronouns have, as a rule, the same form, the pronoun gdy ‘when’ is, however, only a relative pronoun. And so, the pronoun kiedy is also relative, if it is possible to replace it with the form gdy.

For example Lubię, kiedy pada means the same as Lubię, gdy pada. Both kiedy and gdy are relative in these sentences, and they begin a object clause.

A relative pronoun occurs in the sentence Lubię spać, kiedy pada because gdy can also be used here. The subordinate clause which it begins is a temporal adverbial clause.

Also Dowiedziałem się o meczu, kiedy padało contains a relative pronoun because one may also say Dowiedziałem się o meczu, gdy padało. Like previously, kiedy (gdy) begins a temporal adverbial clause here (or an attributive clause, if it means Dowiedziałem się o meczu rozegranym wtedy, gdy padało).

Dowiedziałem się, kiedy padało contains the interrogative pronoun kiedy and an indirect interrogative object clause. It is so because one cannot use gdy here.


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