Results 1 to 4 of 4
  1. Unregistered
    Guest
    #1

    Cool when to use which and when to use that

    could you tell me when to use which and when to use that as a pronoun? eg is it:
    The plane which crashed is being fixed.
    or:
    The plane that crashed is being fixed.
    and why?

    Regards
    Sam Cotton

    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • United States
      • Current Location:
      • United States

    • Join Date: May 2005
    • Posts: 2,045
    #2

    Re: when to use which and when to use that

    Relative clauses are tricky, and most English speakers do not know the rules for which relative pronoun to use. This will be an over-simplified explanation.

    1. If the information in the relative clause is essential to the meaning of the sentence, then use that with no punctuation.

    The plane that crashed is being fixed.

    2. If the information in the relative clause is not essential, then use which and enclose the clause in commas.

    The plane, which has red leather seats, is being fixed.

    In sentence 1 we know that the plane is being fixed because it crashed.
    In sentence 2 we don't know why the plane is being fixed, but it isn't because of the red leather seats (this is just extra information).


    • Join Date: Aug 2006
    • Posts: 3,059
    #3

    Re: when to use which and when to use that

    I'm afraid that that's a misconception,M. Native speakers of every language know all the rules of their language. Not consciously and actively, but unconsciously they know all the rules.

    The rules on relative pronouns is just another example of how poorly the rules have been described.

    1. If the information in the relative clause is essential to the meaning of the sentence, then either 'that' or 'which', with no punctuation, is used.

    The plane that/which crashed is being fixed.

    'that' is much more common in most registers but in academic writing 'which' predominates.

    2. When the information in the relative clause is not essential, ie. the noun being described is known, then you can only use 'which' and this extra information is enclosed in commas.

    In speech, there is an intonational change which indicates this difference.

    This plane, which has red leather seats, is being fixed.

    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • British English
      • Home Country:
      • UK
      • Current Location:
      • Laos

    • Join Date: Nov 2002
    • Posts: 57,833
    #4

    Re: when to use which and when to use that

    In British English, we can use that/which or that/who when the clause is essential pretty much interchangeably, though 'that' tends to be used less in formal writing, so our position seems to be the same as Riverkid's Canadian English.

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

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