Results 1 to 4 of 4

    • Join Date: Jul 2006
    • Posts: 7
    • Post Thanks / Like
    #1

    Is using THAT OK in these sentences???

    A thief is a person who steals things.
    A thief is a person THAT steals things.

    The people who work in the office are very friendly.
    The people THAT work in the office are very friendly.

    I know using WHO is more usual, but do you think using THAT is gramatically correct???

    Thanks for helping me with this! I really appreciate it.

    Jen


    • Join Date: Aug 2006
    • Posts: 3,063
    • Post Thanks / Like
    #2

    Re: Is using THAT OK in these sentences???

    Quote Originally Posted by yukiko1437 View Post
    A thief is a person who steals things.
    A thief is a person THAT steals things.
    The people who work in the office are very friendly.
    The people THAT work in the office are very friendly.
    I know using WHO is more usual, but do you think using THAT is gramatically correct???
    Thanks for helping me with this! I really appreciate it.
    Jen
    Yes, Jen, both 'who' and 'that' are fully grammatical when used as relative pronouns to describe people.

    From the LGSWE;

    In news and academic prose, 'who' is the overwhelming choice for selected human head nouns, eg. people, children, boys, students, etc.

    However, "[I]n conversation, a different pattern is observed: that is much more common with human head nouns, almost as common as who.

    [LGSWE - Table 8.6 & 8.7 - page 613]
    Last edited by riverkid; 11-Sep-2006 at 19:40.

  1. shuja87's Avatar

    • Join Date: Aug 2006
    • Posts: 16
    • Post Thanks / Like
    #3

    Exclamation Re: Is using THAT OK in these sentences???

    Yes, in spoken English, the use of 'that' is more common. However, some grammarians term the use of 'that' as informal for humans because, they say, for humans, the relative pronoun 'who' must used. Also, that the relative pronoun 'that' is reserved for non-humans. So to use 'that' instead of 'who' means to misuse a relative pronoun. For example:
    A thief is a person that steals things.
    A cat is an animal who chases mice.
    Note the awkward feeling that emerges from the second sentence. So the use of 'that' instead of 'who' can, in a sense, be comparable, although 'who' is not commonly used instead of 'that.'
    So to sum up, both are right, but sentences with 'who' are more 'formal' and those with 'that' are less 'formal.'


    • Join Date: Aug 2006
    • Posts: 3,063
    • Post Thanks / Like
    #4

    Re: Is using THAT OK in these sentences???

    That's simply the proof that has been offered to satisfy a prescription, Shuja. This illustrates how silly prescriptivism is. Even if it were rude, language has to allow for being rude because language must cover every conceivable situation.

    Just because 'who' is more polite, it doesn't preclude the use of 'that'. 'that' isn't rude, it's just less polite.

    That's like saying that we must always use 'could' because it's more polite than 'can' or 'will'. Not all social situations demand the most polite collocation.

Similar Threads

  1. Example Sentences for English Words
    By sonicstaars in forum General Language Discussions
    Replies: 11
    Last Post: 05-May-2010, 03:44
  2. can you check my grammar in these few sentences?
    By bbmak in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 3
    Last Post: 07-Jan-2008, 19:56
  3. should/would(in conditional sentences)
    By bayan said in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 3
    Last Post: 26-Dec-2006, 22:21
  4. Replies: 2
    Last Post: 08-Jun-2006, 08:05
  5. What are loose sentences? Periodic sentences?
    By RonBee in forum General Language Discussions
    Replies: 6
    Last Post: 01-Dec-2003, 01:13

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •