I found something. You will find it too.

back to defining relative clauses

You will find what I found.
Well that's it.

Got it? No? O.K. Here it comes for the slow kids:

Let's agree on a very general definition of a relative clause. It is a complex sentence combining two simple ones which both share one element. You can see it in the heading here. The something in sentence one is the same as the it in sentence two. Just try it out, like this:

I found friends. You will find friends too.

See? But there must be a difference to the other relative clauses we discussed earlier. Look at the following examples:

A: I love flowers.

B (thinking): I love flowers too.

B (saying): I love what you love.

My friend is drinking a nice cocktail.

I would like to have the same nice cocktail.

(To the waiter:) I will take what he's drinking.

I am ready to do anything for this job.

The BIG BOSS will set the task.

I am ready to do what the BIG BOSS says.

(I'm very sorry for the kitschy first example. B has fallen in love.)

The difference to the other relative clauses is that the direct objects of the two verbs refer to the same target and that one direct object is completely replaced (instead of completed by) information gained from the other sentence. So in the last sentence above, the direct object task is replaced by what the BIG BOSS says, because this is the task we are talking about.

So whenever a direct object is completely replaced, you can use what as a pronoun.

I have to admit, though, that this is a grammatical concept which you will grasp much easier with your natural ability to imitate than by learning and using rules. So please feel free to imitate sentences like I do what you want. or She has what it takes. and so on.

back to defining relative clauses