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  1. retro's Avatar
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    #1

    THAT vs. WHICH

    Hello!

    According to the rule which is used as a relative pronoun in a clause that provides additional information about the antecedent: my house, which is small and old, and that should be used only to introduce a restrictive (or defining) relative clause, which identifies the entity being talked about.

    So, should we say that my house THAT (not which) is small and old was destroyed in the storm if it is understood that you have two or more houses?

    Thanks!


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    #2

    Re: THAT vs. WHICH

    Hi Retro,
    IMHO
    Formally you can do that, but I doubt smb could say so, it sounds odd. When you say my house it implies your only house. Otherwise you'd probably have to say: my other house or my second house...
    Rgs

  2. BobK's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: THAT vs. WHICH

    Note - this rule is a lot more widely observed in the USA, I believe. Working as a technical writer in a US-owned firm for nearly 20 yrs, I found that the rule's most fervent/sensitive (sometimes insensitive) supporters were US writers. Indeed, BE speakers often get annoyed with Microsoft Word when it tries to enforce the rule. I try to observe it, but I don't get upset when other speakers/writers don't.

    b
    Last edited by BobK; 25-Sep-2006 at 15:59. Reason: Close paren.


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    #4

    Re: THAT vs. WHICH

    Quote Originally Posted by BobK View Post
    Note - this rule is a lot more widely observed in the USA, I believe. Working as a technical writer in a US-owned firm for nearly 20 yrs, I found that the rule's most fervent/sensitive (sometimes insensitive) supporters were US writers.

    Indeed, BE speakers often get annoyed with Microsoft Word when it tries to enforce the rule. I try to observe it, but I don't get upset when other speakers/writers don't.

    b
    Indeed, they are insensitive, Bob, because this too was simply another made up 'rule', a prescription. Some wag misanalysed it and a whole big bunch of unthinking wags leapt onto the wagon.

    This Rutgers University professor sums it up neatly.


    ++++++++++++++++

    http://andromeda.rutgers.edu/~jlynch/Writing/t.html

    "That versus Which.
    According to the more quibbling self-styled grammar experts, that is restrictive, while which is not.

    Many grammarians insist on a distinction without any historical justification. Many of the best writers in the language couldn't tell you the difference between them, while many of the worst think they know."

    ++++++++++++++++++


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    #5

    Re: THAT vs. WHICH

    Quote Originally Posted by retro View Post
    Hello!

    According to the rule which is used as a relative pronoun in a clause that provides additional information about the antecedent: my house, which is small and old, and that should be used only to introduce a restrictive (or defining) relative clause, which identifies the entity being talked about.

    So, should we say that "my house THAT (not which) is small and old was destroyed in the storm" if it is understood that you have two or more houses?

    The most common choice would be 'that', Retro, but a 'which' is possible.

    The 'rule' is, as I've noted, not an accurate description of how and why we use the relative pronouns, which and that.

    We use 'which' and 'who' for those cases where the noun being described has become known. The purpose of relative clauses is to let listeners know which person/thing is being described.

    When we reach that stage, any more info is extra. That's the point when we switch solely to a 'who' for people or a 'which' for things.

    #

  3. BobK's Avatar
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    #6

    Re: THAT vs. WHICH

    Quote Originally Posted by riverkid View Post
    Indeed, they are insensitive, Bob, because this too was simply another made up 'rule', a prescription. Some wag misanalysed it and a whole big bunch of unthinking wags leapt onto the wagon.
    This Rutgers University professor sums it up neatly.

    ++++++++++++++++
    http://andromeda.rutgers.edu/~jlynch/Writing/t.html
    "That versus Which.
    According to the more quibbling self-styled grammar experts, that is restrictive, while which is not.
    Many grammarians insist on a distinction without any historical justification. Many of the best writers in the language couldn't tell you the difference between them, while many of the worst think they know."
    ++++++++++++++++++

    Thanks for the ammunition. I nearly put 'rule' in quotes, but felt it wasn't my place to be so provocative, being a relative newcomer

    b


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    #7

    Re: THAT vs. WHICH

    Quote Originally Posted by BobK View Post
    Thanks for the ammunition. I nearly put 'rule' in quotes, but felt it wasn't my place to be so provocative, being a relative newcomer
    b
    Telling the truth isn't provocative, Bob. It's what is needed, especially in the field of language where students, and teachers have been misled for so so so long.

    That's why the same questions get asked over and over and over again by ESLs; because they've been fed so much nonsense on language.

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