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  1. Unregistered
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    #1

    Dummy Pronouns (derogatory?)

    A colleague of mine refers to people this way, "Anyone 'that' would like to attend..." rather than saying, "Anyone 'WHO' would like to attend...". I find this annoying, refering to people as inanimate objects. One would not say, "I found one seashell 'WHO' was different from all the rest." How can I explain this? What part of speech is this and why do we consider it wrong?

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    #2

    Re: Dummy Pronouns (derogatory?)

    It's a relative pronoun, though I see no problem with using 'that' for people. (British English speaker)


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    #3

    Re: Dummy Pronouns (derogatory?)

    Quote Originally Posted by Unregistered View Post
    A colleague of mine refers to people this way, "Anyone 'that' would like to attend..." rather than saying, "Anyone 'WHO' would like to attend...". I find this annoying, refering to people as inanimate objects. One would not say, "I found one seashell 'WHO' was different from all the rest." How can I explain this? What part of speech is this and why do we consider it wrong?
    Some consider it wrong but that doesn't make it wrong, Unreg.

    That's John over there. And that's Melanie there.

    While it can be argued that 'who' is more polite, it doesn't then follow that by using 'that', a speaker intends to be impolite.

  2. RonBee's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: Dummy Pronouns (derogatory?)

    I second what the other posters have said. There is nothing wrong with using "that" to refer to a person. It's not derogatory, and it's not impolite. I'll let Google help me find a few uses of it.
    Results 1 - 10 of about 237,000,000 for the man that.
    the man that - Google Search

    Results 1 - 10 of about 396,000 for "the man that".
    "the man that" - Google Search
    It's been used that way for a while. See:

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    #5

    Re: Dummy Pronouns (derogatory?)

    Then there's Yahoo.

    One more example:
    How do you shop for the man that has everything?
    Implolite? I don't think so.


    Last edited by RonBee; 15-Jun-2008 at 23:48. Reason: punctuation


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    #6

    Re: Dummy Pronouns (derogatory?)

    Quote Originally Posted by RonBee View Post
    I'll let Google help me find a few uses of it.
    [INDENT] Results 1 - 10 of about 237,000,000 for the man that.
    the man that - Google Search

    Results 1 - 10 of about 396,000 for "the man that".
    "the man that" - Google Search
    Just wonderin', Ron, how come the same search turned up two way different numbers.

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    #7

    Re: Dummy Pronouns (derogatory?)

    Quote Originally Posted by riverkid View Post
    Just wonderin', Ron, how come the same search turned up two way different numbers.
    Putting "the man that" in quotes made a lot of difference. (Note that the Mark Twain story was written in the nineteenth century.)



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    #8

    Re: Dummy Pronouns (derogatory?)

    Quote Originally Posted by RonBee View Post
    Putting "the man that" in quotes made a lot of difference. (Note that the Mark Twain story was written in the nineteenth century.)

    Oh, I see. Have you ever tried the Google "exact phrase" search option? It comes complete with a regional option, ie. the USA, the UK, Canada, etc.

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    #9

    Re: Dummy Pronouns (derogatory?)

    Quote Originally Posted by riverkid View Post
    Oh, I see. Have you ever tried the Google "exact phrase" search option? It comes complete with a regional option, ie. the USA, the UK, Canada, etc.
    No, I don't think I know how to do that.


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    #10

    Re: Dummy Pronouns (derogatory?)

    Quote Originally Posted by RonBee View Post
    No, I don't think I know how to do that.
    Piece of cake, Ron.

    1. Go to Google.com
    2. Click on "Advanced Search"
    3. Type what you want into the "this exact wording or phrase:" box.
    4. Set your language.
    5. Click on, "Date, usage rights, numeric range, and more" to set the region you want and hit ENTER.

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