As has been said, pronominal adjectives are primarily pronouns; but, when they modify words instead of referring to them as antecedents, they are changed to adjectives. They are of two kinds,—RELATIVE and INTERROGATIVE,—and are used to join sentences or to ask questions, just as the corresponding pronouns do.
The RELATIVE ADJECTIVES are which and what; for example,—
It matters not what rank he has, what revenues or garnitures. —Carlyle.
The silver and laughing Xenil, careless what lord should possess the banks that bloomed by its everlasting course.—Bulwer.
The taking of which bark. I verily believe, was the ruin of every mother's son of us.—Kingsley.
In which evil strait Mr. Oxenham fought desperately.—Id.
The INDEFINITE RELATIVE adjectives are what, whatever, whatsoever, whichever, whichsoever. Examples of their use are,—
He in his turn tasted some of its flavor, which, make what sour mouths he would for pretense, proved not altogether displeasing to him.—Lamb.
Whatever correction of our popular views from insight, nature will be sure to bear us out in.—Emerson.
Whatsoever kind of man he is, you at least give him full authority over your son.—Ruskin.
Was there, as it rather seemed, a circle of ominous shadow moving along with his deformity, whichever way he turned himself?—Hawthorne.New torments I behold, and new tormentedAround me, whichsoever way I move,And whichsoever way I turn, and gaze.—Longfellow (From Dante).
The INTERROGATIVE ADJECTIVES are which and what. They may be used in direct and indirect questions. As in the pronouns, which is selective among what is known; what inquires about things or persons not known.In direct questions.
Sentences with which and what in direct questions:—
Which debt must I pay first, the debt to the rich, or the debt to the poor?—Emerson.
But when the Trojan war comes, which side will you take? —Thackeray.
But what books in the circulating library circulate?—Lowell.What beckoning ghost along the moonlight shadeInvites my steps, and points to yonder glade?—Pope.In indirect questions.
Sentences with which and what in indirect questions:—
His head...looked like a weathercock perched upon his spindle neck to tell which way the wind blew.—Irving.
A lady once remarked, he [Coleridge] could never fix which side of the garden walk would suit him best.—Carlyle.
He was turned before long into all the universe, where it was uncertain what game you would catch, or whether any.—Id.
At what rate these materials would be distributed and precipitated in regular strata, it is impossible to determine.—Agassiz.
In exclamatory expressions, what (or what a) has a force somewhat like a descriptive adjective. It is neither relative nor interrogative, but might be called an EXCLAMATORY ADJECTIVE; as,—
Oh, what a revolution! and what a heart must I have, to contemplate without emotion that elevation and that fall!—Burke.
What a piece of work is man!—Shakespeare.
And yet, alas, the making of it right, what a business for long time to come!—Carlyle
Through what hardships it may attain to bear a sweet fruit!—Thoreau.
Exercise.—Find ten sentences containing pronominal adjectives.