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    • Join Date: Jul 2009
    • Posts: 17
    #1

    which or who

    Dear teachers,

    When referring to organisations, societies, etc. (composed of people, of course), should we use who or which?

    I know this question sounds strange, so here an example...

    "The Enviromental department, which is the responsible for implementing this policy, does not agree with the measures adopted by the government".

    Thank you!

    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • French
      • Home Country:
      • France
      • Current Location:
      • France

    • Join Date: Jun 2009
    • Posts: 620
    #2

    Smile Re: which or who

    Quote Originally Posted by Ochinoam View Post
    Dear teachers,

    When referring to organisations, societies, etc. (composed of people, of course), should we use who or which?

    I know this question sounds strange, so here an example...

    "The Enviromental department, which is the responsible for implementing this policy, does not agree with the measures adopted by the government".

    Thank you!
    Hello, here is 'The French',

    I am not a teacher but what I have learnt, it's 'who' is used for people and 'which' for the things.

    I understand your question but I think one organisation it's one thing composed by different persons and for me which is the only correct answer.

    Have a nice day.

  1. konungursvia's Avatar
    • Member Info
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      • English
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      • Canada
      • Current Location:
      • Canada

    • Join Date: Mar 2009
    • Posts: 5,158
    #3

    Re: which or who

    In AmE, we would use which, as the government or a department is a singular abstract noun. French does the same sort of thing, treating "la police" as a feminine singular, rather than a group of people in the plural.

    In BrE, you will find it is quite common to use the collective singular as a notional subject or rather a metaphor for the plurality of individuals: "The team are happy to have beaten Celta Vigo." "The Home Office have made their decision."

    So, it is perhaps only strictly correct to use "which" in such cases, but there will be people who prefer "who", especially if they are imagining the department's members as human decision-makers, etc., and are willing to bend the rules of grammar for this reason, as the Brits often do.

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