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Thread: Which or that

  1. #1
    TeacherMarco is offline Newbie
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    Default Which or that



    Hi! Which one should I use in this sentence - which or that?


    In the following pages we are going to read about three tragedies that happened on the sea in the last century, which/that are remembered until today. Let’s know why.


    Thanks a lot.
    Last edited by TeacherMarco; 23-Nov-2010 at 12:36.

  2. #2
    Raymott's Avatar
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    Default Re: Which or that

    Quote Originally Posted by TeacherMarco View Post

    Hi! Which one should I use in this sentence - which or that?


    In the following pages we are going to read about three tragedies that happened on the sea in the last century, which/that are remembered until today. Letís know why.


    Thanks a lot.
    You could use either, but the comma doesn't belong. This is a defining clause.
    Which three tragedies? - Three tragedies that happened on the sea that are still remembered today.

    (There are some regional differences regarding preferences for that/which in these cases. I prefer 'that' in this case.)

  3. #3
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    BobK is offline Harmless drudge
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    Default Re: Which or that

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymott View Post
    You could use either, but the comma doesn't belong. This is a defining clause.
    Which three tragedies? - Three tragedies that happened on the sea that are still remembered today.

    (There are some regional differences regarding preferences for that/which in these cases. I prefer 'that' in this case.)
    That so

    These are defining:
    ...three tragedies that happened on the sea that is called 'The Red Sea'.
    ...three tragedies that happened on the sea that surrounds Malta.
    The second 'that' clause answers the question 'which sea?'

    The question is, do you parse the relevant clauses as
    ...three tragedies of which two things can be said: they happened on the sea and they are still remembered

    or

    ...three tragedies that happened on the sea. By the way those tragedies, which you already know about because I've defined them as having 'happened at sea', are still remembered
    '...that are still remembered' in the first case defines maritime tragedies, and in the second case gives more information about the three tragedies in question. The reader, in the second case, knows which tragedies are being dealt with; the bit about their memorability is an interesting extra. I disagree about the comma's adding nothing: it prevents a nonsensical interpretation involving memorable seas!

    Note, by the way, that I'm not espousing any restrictions about 'which' and 'that', and I agree that the sentence - with the comma - is badly expressed. The fix is not to remove the comma, but to write better in the first place!



    b
    Last edited by BobK; 24-Nov-2010 at 14:23. Reason: fix format, and add last bit (omitted because lunch was ready!)

  4. #4
    Raymott's Avatar
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    Default Re: Which or that

    Quote Originally Posted by BobK View Post
    Note, by the way, that I'm not espousing any restrictions about 'which' and 'that', and I agree that the sentence - with the comma - is badly expressed. The fix is not to remove the comma, but to write better in the first place!



    b
    I should have said that if he decides to use 'which', the comma should go.
    With 'that' I personally would still remove the comma.

    I know that the practical answer is often "Re-write the sentence", but often there is a specific point of grammar that the poster wants to know about, and I'm happy to answer that point while still leaving a pretty awful sentence, on the grounds that rewriting the sentence nicely can miss the point of the question.

  5. #5
    TeacherMarco is offline Newbie
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    Default Re: Which or that

    Is it better now?

    In the following pages we are going to read about three tragedies that happened on the sea, in the last century, which are remembered until today. Let’s know why.

  6. #6
    Raymott's Avatar
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    Default Re: Which or that

    Quote Originally Posted by TeacherMarco View Post
    Is it better now?

    In the following pages we are going to read about three tragedies that happened on the sea, in the last century, which are remembered until today. Letís know why.
    Not much.
    Adding another unnecessary comma just makes it worse.
    I still prefer "which are still remembered today"; "remembered until today" just isn't colloquial.
    This is what I'd write:
    "In the following pages we are going to read about three tragedies that happened on the sea in the last century, and which are still remembered today."

    But it's not the only solution.

  7. #7
    BobK's Avatar
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    Default Re: Which or that

    Incidentally, a colloquial way of saying 'still remembered today' is 'remembered to this day'.

    b

  8. #8
    lauralie2 is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: Which or that

    Quote Originally Posted by TeacherMarco View Post
    Is it better now?

    In the following pages we are going to read about three tragedies that happened on the sea, in the last century, which are remembered until today. Letís know why.
    What about?

    In the following pages we are going to read about three tragedies that took place at sea in the last century that are still remembered today.

  9. #9
    Raymott's Avatar
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    Default Re: Which or that

    Quote Originally Posted by lauralie2 View Post
    What about?
    In the following pages we are going to read about three tragedies that took place at sea in the last century that are still remembered today.
    Yes, that was my original thought; 'that' and no commas. It's good.

  10. #10
    lauralie2 is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: Which or that

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymott View Post
    Yes, that was my original thought; 'that' and no commas. It's good.
    No commas, yes. It's the "on sea" that threw me. It is OK with you?

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