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  1. #1
    davidtao is offline Newbie
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    Default Relative pronouns. that or which?

    I am doubting a rule about relative pronouns (that or which?) which is spread widely in chinese English textbooks. I am wondering what your opinion is.
    He sold all the furniture ___ we had. [According the CHinglish rules, we should only fill in "that" fo r the antecedent is modified by "all', similar modifiers including every, any, much, little , few, no ] . Which is forbidden in such cases.
    However, I found many counterexamples in Native speaking websites or government documents. I am wonder in your school grammar rules, do you have such a rule? I failed to find evidence which prefers "that" to "which" in such cases in 2 authorative grammar books- LGWSE and CGEL.
    Thanks for you brief opinion.

  2. #2
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    Barb_D is offline Moderator
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    Default Re: Relative pronouns. that or which?

    I would use that.
    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.

  3. #3
    emsr2d2's Avatar
    emsr2d2 is offline Moderator
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    Default Re: Relative pronouns. that or which?

    I would probably use neither:

    He sold all the furniture we had.

    If forced to use one or the other, I would go with "that". I am not saying, however, that "which" is wrong.
    Remember - correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing make posts much easier to read.

  4. #4
    davidtao is offline Newbie
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    Default Re: Relative pronouns. that or which?

    I am wondering if the Chinese rule is right in the opinon of a native speakers of English? I doubt it is just a CHinglish rule. Thanks for your response.

  5. #5
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    Barb_D is offline Moderator
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    Default Re: Relative pronouns. that or which?

    There are some people who care a lot more about whether to use "that" or "which" than others. I'm one of them. I use "that" for restrictive use and "which" for non-restrictive use, but many, many people use "which" for either type.

    Rather than worrying about whether the rule you were taught in China is right or not, do some reading on "that" and "which" and decide for yourself.
    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.

  6. #6
    davidtao is offline Newbie
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    Default Re: Relative pronouns. that or which?

    I did find a slew of evidence to contradict the above-mentioned CHinglish Rule and I read lots of counterexamples which did not follow the above RULE. Although I have no difficulty in choosing them, I do doubt whether such limitaions for WHICH really exist in English native speakers' mind or English textbooks for native speakers. Thanks for your response.

  7. #7
    Barb_D's Avatar
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    Default Re: Relative pronouns. that or which?

    They exist in my mind. They do not exist in the minds of many -- if not most -- other native speakers.
    Last edited by emsr2d2; 17-Jan-2013 at 16:28. Reason: typo
    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.

  8. #8
    SoothingDave is offline VIP Member
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    Default Re: Relative pronouns. that or which?

    Quote Originally Posted by Barb_D View Post
    They exist in my mind. They do not exist in the mind's of many -- if not most -- other native speakers.
    Exactly. I am one who doesn't worry about whether "that" or "which" is proper in most cases.

  9. #9
    hoangkha is offline Member
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    Default Re: Relative pronouns. that or which?

    Quote Originally Posted by SoothingDave View Post
    Exactly. I am one who doesn't worry about whether "that" or "which" is proper in most cases.
    Sorry. But we are students, so we must worry about using whether THAT or WHICH.
    Ex:(quoted from an exercise book)
    - Money is all________ many people consider to be the aim of their life.
    A. whose
    B. which
    C. that
    D. whom
    The key is C. that.

  10. #10
    BobK's Avatar
    BobK is offline Harmless drudge
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    Default Re: Relative pronouns. that or which?

    Quote Originally Posted by hoangkha View Post
    Sorry. But we are students, so we must worry about using whether THAT or WHICH.
    Ex:(quoted from an exercise book)
    - Money is all________ many people consider to be the aim of their life.
    A. whose
    B. which
    C. that
    D. whom
    The key is C. that.
    You can rule out A and D. Opinions differ about B and C, but if your test system requires you to choose C, then choose it - just don't expect much support from native speakers' usage. The fact that you have spotted counter-examples shows that you know the difference between defining and non-defining clauses, so you can 'switch on' the desired behaviour when you need to.

    b

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