A Figure "Who" or "That"

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Allthatjazznj

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Which is better, "He is prominent figure who..." or "He is a prominent figure that..."?
 

Casiopea

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Allthatjazznj said:
Which is better, "He is prominent figure who..." or "He is a prominent figure that..."?

Conversationally, both 'who' and 'that' are used. Traditionally, though, it's 'who' that's used.

Question: Who is a prominent figure?
Answer: He is. (Person)

1. He is a prominent figure who.... :D
 
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Allthatjazznj

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Thanks, Casiopea! That was my hunch, but it's great to get word from the moderator. I am new to this forum (found via Google). Was a devotee of dictionary.com's forum but can no longer access it. I'm a wordsmith of sorts and used to read dictionaries as a hobby. I'm presently copyediting a book on art history and was stumped by the who/that usage in this case.


Casiopea said:
Allthatjazznj said:
Which is better, "He is prominent figure who..." or "He is a prominent figure that..."?

Conversationally, both 'who' and 'that' are used. Traditionally, though, it's 'who' that's used.

Question: Who is a prominent figure?
Answer: He is. (Person)

1. He is a prominent figure who.... :D
 

MikeNewYork

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Allthatjazznj said:
Which is better, "He is prominent figure who..." or "He is a prominent figure that..."?

Hi, Stephen.

I agree with Cas, that most people prefer "who" when referring to a person. When the person is not referred to by name or association (John, brother), "that" can often be substituted. This is particular true when discussing a profession or a skill (plumber, third baseman, etc.).

:wink:
 

RonBee

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As Mike stated, I would use who when referring to a specific person, but I might use that when referring to a nonspecific person or one whose identity is not known.

:)
 

MikeNewYork

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RonBee said:
As Mike stated, I would use who when referring to a specific person, but I might use that when referring to a nonspecific person or one whose identity is not known.

:)

:wink:
 
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