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  1. Nightmare85's Avatar
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    #1

    Small "which or who" question

    Hello,
    We use who when we describe persons, and we use which when we describe anything else.

    An animal, which can speak our language, does not exist yet.
    Usually, a man, who has a lot of money, is very famous.


    What about this sentence:
    My boss is a dumb monkey who has absolutely no idea what he is talking about.

    Do I still have to use who?
    Maybe it could belong to the dumb monkey, which would mean I have to use which.

    Thanks!

    P.S: And no, I don't have problems with my boss

    Cheers!

  2. RonBee's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: Small "which or who" question

    In each example sentence, the commas are not needed.
    .
    An animal which can speak our language does not exist yet.
    .
    The phrase "An animal which can speak our language" is a noun phrase.

    .
    Usually, a man who has a lot of money is very famous.

    .
    The phrase "a man who has a lot of money" is a noun phrase.

    .
    My boss is a dumb monkey who has absolutely no idea what he is talking about.


    .
    In my humble opinion, "who" is just right there.


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    #3

    Re: Small "which or who" question

    It depends on what you want to say.

    "Who" is right if the point is that your boss has no idea of what he is talking about.

    "Which" is right if the point is that a dumb monkey has no idea of what it is talking about - in which case "it is talking about" is better than "he is talking about".


    Idun - norse goddess of love and knowledge

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    #4

    Exclamation Re: Small "which or who" question

    Quote Originally Posted by RonBee View Post
    In each example sentence, the commas are not needed.
    .
    An animal which can speak our language does not exist yet.
    .
    The phrase "An animal which can speak our language" is a noun phrase.

    .
    Usually, a man who has a lot of money is very famous.

    .
    The phrase "a man who has a lot of money" is a noun phrase.

    .
    .
    In my humble opinion, "who" is just right there.
    In the above sentences, the op has not used ‘who’ or ‘which’ as question words; such as: Who do you like? (asking about a person) Which book did you buy? (asking to specify a thing). They have been used as relative pronouns at the beginning of the subordinate clause which gives some specific information about the main clause.

    Let me just elaborate RunBee who has specified a valid point., The clause introduced (Who has absolutely no idea…..) is a restrictive one, so you should not put a comma before the clause, the relative pronoun refers to ‘boss’, so it should be ‘who’ not ‘which’

    A nonrestrictive clause can have additional information not necessarily about subject. It can say about the monkey in the present sentence as modified below, with a comma at the end of the main clause and before the nonrestrictive sub-clause.

    My boss has absolutely no idea what he is talking about, is a dumb monkey, which shows its teeth at every one..
    Last edited by sarat_106; 30-Jan-2010 at 12:45.

  3. Raymott's Avatar
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    #5

    Re: Small "which or who" question

    Quote Originally Posted by RonBee View Post
    In each example sentence, the commas are not needed.
    More than that, they are incorrect. They change the intended meaning.

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    #6

    Re: Small "which or who" question

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymott View Post
    More than that, they are incorrect. They change the intended meaning.
    They change the intended meaning to what? I thought those commas were simply incorrect. So do the sentences with commas have any meaning? I don't see what...

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    #7

    Re: Small "which or who" question

    Quote Originally Posted by mmasny View Post
    They change the intended meaning to what? I thought those commas were simply incorrect. So do the sentences with commas have any meaning? I don't see what...
    Usually, a man who has a lot of money is very famous. = It is usual for a rich man to be famous.

    Usually, a man, who has a lot of money, is very famous. = It doesn't really make sense but it implies that all men are rich are famous- when we say 'a man/woman/person' in some contexts we are referring to men/women/people in general. An international traveller has to have a passport- this refers to almost all international travellers.

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    #8

    Re: Small "which or who" question

    Quote Originally Posted by Nightmare85 View Post
    Hello,
    We use who when we describe persons, and we use which when we describe anything else.
    You're using 'monkey' metaphorically, not literally- however stupid, this boss is still a ember of the species.

    The animal/people distinction isn't always clearcut- you will hear people refer to their pets as if they were human - my dog, who...- and teams/groups, etc- in BrE, we often use 'who' (and plural verbs, which drives some AmE speakers up the wall).

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    #9

    Re: Small "which or who" question

    I see. Apparently, I had a wrong meaning of the word 'meaning' in mind. :)

  4. Raymott's Avatar
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    #10

    Re: Small "which or who" question

    Quote Originally Posted by mmasny View Post
    They change the intended meaning to what? I thought those commas were simply incorrect. So do the sentences with commas have any meaning? I don't see what...
    Surrounding a "which/who" clause with commas turns a restrictive, defining clause into a non-restrictive non-defining clause.

    1. My sister who is a dancer got married yesterday.
    2. My sister, who is a dancer, got married yesterday.

    1. means that I might have several sisters, and the one that got married was the one who was a dancer.
    2. means I only have one sister, and by the way, she's a dancer.
    1. defines which sister, so it is a defining clause. It's also called a restrictive clause because it restricts the sister I'm talking about to the one who is a dancer.
    A non-defining, non-restrictive clause simply adds information to the main sentence.

    An animal, which can speak our language, does not exist yet.
    The commas in this non-defining clause imply that such an animal does exist,
    but then the rest of the sentence asserts that this animal doesn't exist.

    So the claim that the commas are not necessary is too weak. The commas should not be there.
    Last edited by Raymott; 31-Jan-2010 at 08:51. Reason: Fix typos

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