that/which

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kylie

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what is the difference between 'that' and 'which?' Sometimes sentences can be used with 'that' or without it. And othertimes you need to use 'that'? Why?

What is the difference between 'who' and 'whom'? How do you know when to use them properly?

Thank you!
 

Casiopea

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Sep 21, 2003
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'that' is restrictive. The information it heads is required:

A suitcase that doesn't have a handle is useless.

If we omit the underlined portion, the sentence is strange:

A suitcase is useless. :shock:

'which' is non-restrictive. The information it heads is not required:

A suitcase without a handle, which is old and ugly, is useless.

Place a comma (,) before and after the non-restrictive clause to show that the information isn't necessary.

'that' is often omitted when it functions as a conjunction: when it introduces a clause:

I like book that you bought.
I like the book you bought. (OK. 'that' is not required)

'you bought' is a clause: it has a subject ('you') and a verb ('bought'). Let's now look a sentence wherein 'that' heads a clause. That is, 'that' functions as the subject:

A suitcase that doesn't have a handle is useless.
A suitcase doesn't have a handle is useless. (Ungrammatical. 'that' is required)

'doesn't have a handle' is not a clause. It lacks a subject. In fact 'that' functions as the subject, so 'that' can't be omitted.

Let's now change the sentence so that we have both 'that' and a subject:

A suitcase that you gave me is useless.
A suitcase you gave me is useless. (OK)

'you gave me' has a subject ('you'), so 'that' can be omitted.
 
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