"which" as the head of a restrictive clause

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Casiopea

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I recently came across a definition for "which" that said (and I paraphrase) which can be used to introduce a restrictive clause. The example provided, see below, was cited from Oxford English:

Restrictive A suitcase which has no handles is useless. (note, no commas)

Non-Restrictive A suitcase, which has no handles, is useless. (note, commas)

The argument for "which" sans commas (Restrictive use) is this: if we take away the 'which has no handles' bit, the resulting bit is nonsense:

A suitcase is useless.

My question is this, if which is used to head a restrictive clause, then what's the difference between A and B below?

A. A suitcase which has no handles is useless.
B. A suitcase that has no handles is useless.

Uhm, is stress the key? The same person who provided the definition/examples also added that which is stressed and that that is unstressed, so speakers tend to use 'which' restrictively as a means of adding stress.

Huh? :roll:

Non-Oxford English speaka. :twisted:
 

Tdol

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In BE, which can be used in a restrictive or a non-restrictive clause, but that can only be used in a restrictive clause. To me, there's no difference between your examples a&b. The stress would be dependent on context and intended meaning, not automatic. To distinguish between which + restrive\non-restrictive clause in speech would be done by a short pause or lower stress to show it's non-essential with a non-restrictive clause.

I understand the position in AE is different and, I presume, Canadian english follows the AE pattern.
 

RonBee

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I agree with Tdol that both example sentences mean the same thing. Thus, I choose either. :wink:

By the way, in the second example sentence from Oxford, the which clause acts as an appositive phrase.

A suitcase, which has no handles, is useless.

The phrase defines suitcase (incorrectly, I might add). That sentence is similar in nature to:

  • A chicken, which has short wings, cannot fly.

Interesting, huh?

:)
 

Tdol

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You're right, Ron; "A suitcase, which has no handles, is useless" is a weird sentence. ;-)
 
J

jwschang

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tdol said:
In BE, which can be used in a restrictive or a non-restrictive clause, but that can only be used in a restrictive clause. To me, there's no difference between your examples a&b. The stress would be dependent on context and intended meaning, not automatic. To distinguish between which + restrive\non-restrictive clause in speech would be done by a short pause or lower stress to show it's non-essential with a non-restrictive clause.

I understand the position in AE is different and, I presume, Canadian english follows the AE pattern.

AE, as I know it, almost always uses THAT as a relative pronoun (restrictive or otherwise). BE tends to make a distinction between the two: THAT is commonly used in a restrictive sense; WHICH is used in an informative sense. E.g.,
(1) A suitcase that has no handles....
(2) The hill, which rises above the surrounding country.....
 
J

jwschang

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tdol said:
You're right, Ron; "A suitcase, which has no handles, is useless" is a weird sentence. ;-)

If I may add further:
1. THAT is usually used with the indefinite article A/An, in order to restrict or define what was originally indefinite.
2. WHICH tends to be used with the definite article The, to add more information to something already identified.
 
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