See the following sentence:

Be careful what you eat.

In this case, "what" is having which syntactic function? I checked the possibilities in the wiktionary: http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/what My best guess is that it is a "relative pronoun", but I'm not 100% convinced of that. I feel it could be something other than a pronoun, although I'm not sure how to support that.

(second question removed by OP to keep the focus)

  • People in this specific stackexchange are really fond of downvoting questions... :-/
    – msb
    Sep 15, 2013 at 19:04
  • Please have a look at our tour page which describes the scope of the site. As for downvotes, you have one. That means that one person decided to downvote, hardly enough to reach conclusions about the entire site :). Also, you may be interested in our sister site, English Language Learners. Oh and asking multiple questions in one is frowned upon on all sites of the SE network.
    – terdon
    Sep 15, 2013 at 19:14
  • I did read the about, my question seemed to follow what's in the section "Get answers to practical, detailed questions". I even got a badge for reading the whole about! :D I got my conclusion about downvotes when I saw that in the "related" box 4 of 10 questions were below zero. :-/ About the sister site, I'm currently reading this to see if I get to any conclusion: meta.english.stackexchange.com/questions/4161/… Thanks for the feedback so far. :)
    – msb
    Sep 15, 2013 at 19:17
  • 1
    Well, those downvotes might be a hint :). The second part of your question is really off topic because it is very simple to a native speaker. It is, understandably, hard for someone who is not, but that's what English Language Learners is for.
    – terdon
    Sep 15, 2013 at 19:25
  • Removed the second part. :)
    – msb
    Sep 15, 2013 at 19:27

1 Answer 1


In Be careful what you eat, the word what is a pronoun. Specifically, it is a relative pronoun. There is a very similar example on the wiktionary page you linked to:

4 (relative) That which; those that; the thing that.

he knows what he wants; what is tossed upward falls back down

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