Student or Learner
Microsoft Word tells me that "that" should be "which," but I disagree because I think what follows "that" is essential to the meaning of the sentence and is hence a restrictive clause.
It used to have a Committee for the Development of Sport (CDDS), in force from 1977 to 2005, that served as a medium for sport cooperation between the Council of Europe and governmental as well as non-governmental bodies.
Am I right?
[emphasis is mine]September 17, 2004
SIDNEY GOLDBERG ON NYT GRAMMAR: ZERO FOR THREE
1. That and which. The first charge is that the Times "consistently proves that it does not know the difference between ‘that’ and ‘which,’ greatly favoring the latter." There's only one thing he could be alluding to here: he's one of those people who believe the old nonsense about which being disallowed in what The Cambridge Grammar calls integrated relative clauses (the old-fashioned term is "restrictive" or "defining" relative clauses). Strunk and White perpetuate that myth.
I've discussed it elsewhere. The notion that phrases like any book which you would want to read are ungrammatical is so utterly in conflict with the facts that you can refute it by looking in... well, any book which you would want to read. As I said before about which in integrated relatives:
As a check on just how common it is in excellent writing, I searched electronic copies of a few classic novels to find the line on which they first use which to introduce an integrated relative with which, to tell us how much of the book you would need to read before you ran into an instance:
A Christmas Carol (Dickens): 1,921 lines, first occurrence on line 217 = 11% of the way through;
Alice in Wonderland (Carroll): 1,618 lines, line 143 = 8%;
Dracula (Stoker): 9,824 lines, line 8 = less than 1%;
Lord Jim (Conrad): 8,045 lines, line 15 = 1%;
Moby Dick (Melville): 10,263 lines, line 103 = 1%;
Wuthering Heights (Bronte): 7,599 lines, line 56 = 0.736%...
Do I need to go on? No. The point is clear. On average, by the time you've read about 3% of a book by an author who knows how to write you will already have encountered an integrated relative clause beginning with which. They are fully grammatical for everyone. The copy editors are enforcing a rule which has no support at all in the literature that defines what counts as good use of the English language. Their which hunts are pointless time-wasting nonsense.
But it's nonsense that Goldberg firmly believes in, you see. There will be no talking him out of it. He'll be about 3% into his copy The New York Times and he'll see something like "the idea which they considered" and he'll spit coffee out into his muesli and splutter for his wife to bring him his red pen and he'l circle it furiously like Justice Harry Blackmun circling "homocide"; only the difference is that Blackmun was right, "homocide" is an error. Using which in an integrated relative clause is not, and nobody who has carefully studied the English language would think that it was.
Language Log: Sidney Goldberg on NYT grammar: zero for three
Last edited by albeit; 15-Oct-2009 at 23:58.
I think what it's doing is applying a rule that is an oversimplification and is objecting to the use of that after a comma, assuming that the comma turns it into a non-restrictive clause, which it doesn't do in your case. BTW, I agree with Albeit that there's nothing wrong with using which in a restrictive/defining/integrated clause, though it seems more of an AmE hang-up than a BrE one.
It's a case of an algorithm that doesn't account for enough possibilities and Microsoft's grammar check has never really been that good, which is a shame. It looks as if they grabbed a couple of tattered grammar books, tried to make a few rules and then left it alone when they realised how complex a job it would be to do a thorough grammar check.
It also tries (or did the last time I looked) to get rid of the passive, which is nonsensical, but they must have got that from a plain English guide that recommends using the active to be more direct and turned advice to encourage bureaucrats to write more clearly into a rule where 'my mother bore me in London' would be better than 'I was born in London'.
Last edited by Tdol; 16-Oct-2009 at 20:45.