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Thread: grammer

  1. #1
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    Question grammer

    Excuse me vevryone,I have a silly question to ask that in the conditional clause,what are the differences between 'that' and 'which'? I mean in what condition that 'that' cannont be replaced by 'which'? Thankssssss!!

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    Default Re: grammer

    Hello, cartrina.

    You mentioned 'conditional clause'. Could you give us an example?

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    Default Re: grammer

    Quote Originally Posted by cartrina
    Excuse me vevryone,I have a silly question to ask that in the conditional clause,what are the differences between 'that' and 'which'? I mean in what condition that 'that' cannont be replaced by 'which'? Thankssssss!!
    The official answer is that the difference is between a "restrictive clause" and an "unrestrictive clause". You use "that" when you are restricting a plural group to a subset, and you use "which" when you are describing characteristics of an entire plural group. Let me give examples:

    1) "I have friends that I trust" - I do not trust all my friends, only some of them.

    2) "I have friends which I trust" - I have friends, and I trust them all. I am describing something about my friends (my trust in them) that applies to the whole group.

    This is a common source of argument, because most English speakers do not observe this distinction. My personal opinion is that it is observed so infrequently that it has lost the right to be considered part of English Grammar - in common usage, the words are now synonymous.

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    Default Re: grammer

    Coffa, are these conditional clauses?

    1) "I have friends that I trust"
    2) "I have friends which I trust"

    Quote Originally Posted by cartrina
    ... in the conditional clause, what are the differences between 'that' and 'which'?

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    Default Re: grammer

    Quote Originally Posted by Casiopea
    Coffa, are these conditional clauses?

    1) "I have friends that I trust"
    2) "I have friends which I trust"
    Sorry. I should read more carefully

  6. #6
    jessychitra Guest

    Default Re: grammer

    Quote Originally Posted by cartrina
    Excuse me vevryone,I have a silly question to ask that in the conditional clause,what are the differences between 'that' and 'which'? I mean in what condition that 'that' cannont be replaced by 'which'? Thankssssss!!
    Hi Cartrina,
    Check your spelling. It is grammar.
    Cheers,
    Jessy

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    Default Re: grammer

    Coffa, but your explanation was tops!

  8. #8
    nyggus is offline Key Member
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    Lightbulb Re: grammer

    Hi All:

    I'd like to add something to your discussion, but rather to Coffa's reply than to the discussion on conditional clauses.
    I think that even though in casual (or spoken) English the difference between 'which' and 'that' is often not noticed, in formal English it is. In academic writing, free exchanging of these words is interpreted as a mistake, and I think this is good. The two sentences that Coffa gave are an excellent example of this. In fact, before "which" one should put a comma: without comma it is difficult to figure out which type of sentence the author wanted to write. So it should be "I have friends that I trust" or "I have friends, which I trust." And, finally, I think that the difference between these two sentences is clear, since they have different meaning (even in spoken language, although then we can understand the sentence from the context as well as from the accent of the speaker). Then, why should we not distinguish these two sentences? I suppose that for non-native persons, for example for me, it is easier to understand a sentence when one knows that the authors did distinguished those two different sentences.
    Do my conclusions make sense?

    Best wishes,
    Nyggus
    Last edited by nyggus; 03-Jun-2006 at 20:20.

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    Default Re: grammer

    Nyggus,

    I agree with what you say up to a point. I am, by nature, a disciple of non-prescriptive grammar, because I believe all languages are at their most vital when they are open to change. English is perhaps the most obvious example of this - it is historically a promiscuous language, and welcomes, absorbs and thrives on injections from other languages.

    The puropse of grammar IMHO is to regulate that which would otherwise be chaotic. Therefore, where there is ambiguity, it should bring order. Where the rule exists historically, and no longer serves its original purpose, it should be ruthlessly discarded. But I would point out that native speakers naturally abhor ambiguity. If you see a case (such as that/which) where native speakers have discarded a rule, it is almost invariably for good reason. Linguists should respect this, and too often they do not - believing instead that rules should exist purely because they have existed in the past.

    In essence, when a rule needs to be explained to native speakers, it is on shaky ground. Does it serve a useful purpose? If it does, why do they not absorb it naturally as part of the learning process? Native speakers of all languages learn phenomenally complex rules as their expressive powers develop. I speak and write in English all the time to people at all levels of fluency, and I have never felt that this rule was necessary to avoid ambiguity. I therefore feel it is anachronistic and unnecessary.

  10. #10
    nyggus is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: grammer

    Hi, Coffa:

    I agree with most of your arguments. Nevertheless, I was taught of this rule by experienced native academic writers, and I still see the difference between the two sentences (friends again, but with slightly modified meaning, to emphasize the example):

    1. "I like to talk to my friends that have been to America."
    2. "I like to talk to my friends, which have been to America."

    Don't you see the difference? I'm just curious. Nevertheless, this discussion is very enlightening.

    Thanks,
    Nyggus

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