My brother uses sentences like that a lot:

There were some women who look pretty.

By that he means:

There were some pretty women.

I feel like native English speakers don't use the word "Who" like that. From my study, I think this is the correct way to use a conjunction word:

The women who were there look pretty.

I think my brother is influenced by our mother tongue language (Arabic) because in Arabic, the word "Who" is used like what he said and that sounds too normal and understandable.

He disagrees with me and he thinks that he listened to sentences like that from native speakers and that's why he uses the word "Who" in that way. He says it's like the following sentence:

Those are the ones who look pretty.

  • 2
    You're both kind of correct. Your brother's sentence is grammatically correct, but your phrasing is more idiomatic.
    – stangdon
    May 10, 2018 at 17:41
  • 1
    Grammatically, it should be either There were some women who looked pretty. or There are some women who look pretty. But, that aside, the use of who is fine. (As is your own phrasing.) May 10, 2018 at 23:47
  • Note that if the sentences were "There were some women who looked wealthy" and "There were some wealthy women", then they would not be equivalent, because looking wealthy and being wealthy are not the same thing. Jul 4, 2022 at 12:12

1 Answer 1


The main thing that is awkward about your brother's sentence is the mixing of tenses. "There were some women who looked pretty." would be better.

But you are right that being pretty and looking pretty have the same meaning, so it would be be easier to say "There were some pretty women."

The grammatical form in your brother's sentence is called a relative clause. It is useful, for example, if the women had beautiful voices you might say "There were some women who sounded pretty." Because sounding pretty is not the same as being pretty you need to use the relative clause.

Relative clauses are very flexible and powerful tools for describing something: "John met his friend who had just returned from Africa" You could not phrase this without the relative clause. But for simple adjectives, putting them before the noun is usually better: "John met a tall woman." instead of "John met a woman who was tall".

  • 3
    I would argue that mixing tenses here is not just awkward but ungrammatical. While it, like any number of other things, can be done deliberately for effect, that is not the case here. May 10, 2018 at 23:45

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