1. OurJud
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    OurJud Contributing Member Contributor

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    Who or That?

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by OurJud, Jun 18, 2009.

    I'm probably going to look a right berk asking this, and I know I should know the answer, but it's an area that always tripped me up.

    Which is the correct word (in bold) to use in this context, and why?

     
  2. ManhattanMss
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    ManhattanMss Contributing Member

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    Always use "who" if it refers to people. Why? Because "who" is a person. "That" is only a thingie of some kind:).

    Note: I never heard the expression "a right berk." I looked it up. You don't really look like one;) at all.
     
  3. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    that's close to what i tell all my mentees who get it wrong [way too many of 'em!]:

    people are 'who'... things are 'that'...
     
  4. OurJud
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    OurJud Contributing Member Contributor

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    Thanks, but I'm still confused, because when you look at the sentence again:

    I'm now asking myself to what am I referring when I use the word(s) who/that? Am I referring to the people that voted, or the voting process itself?
     
  5. ManhattanMss
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    ManhattanMss Contributing Member

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    In your example, "who" refers to "you" (who are people--plural people, to be specific). You are referring to the people WHO voted, not the voting process itself. Substitute your confused subjects for the word "who" or "that."

    "... [who/that] voted yes ..." (your construction)

    "... [YOU] voted yes ..." (YOU = people, therefore WHO)

    "... [THE VOTING PROCES] voted yes ..." The voting process is not people, nor did "it" (or could it) vote either way. It is clearly the people who did the voting (unless your story is very bizarre ;))
     
  6. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    put simply, it's clear that 'those' = the people, not the vote... to test that, just take out 'of you'... it's not needed, anyway...

    the word 'those' in 'those who voted yes' can't mean anything but people, can it?
     
  7. OurJud
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    OurJud Contributing Member Contributor

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    Thanks very much, Manhattan, mammamaia, that's much clearer now. I'm sure that in time, however, I will come across another sentence that's not quite as clear cut and stops me in my tracks, leaving me wondering, "Who or that?...." :rolleyes:
     
  8. tbeverley
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    tbeverley Senior Member

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    "Would those of you who voted yes, please raise your hand."

    The sentence is grammatically incorrect. The comma shouldn't be there. It should read: "Would those of you who voted 'yes' please raise your hand."

    "those of you who voted" is a noun phrase, which takes the place of the noun in the sentence. Think of it as "people." "People voted." "Those of you" replaces "people." It is a noun phrase, while "who voted" is a modifier of that noun phrase.

    "raise your hand" is the verb phrase. This is what "Those of you who voted" are doing. Thus, the comma between "yes, please" should not be there, similar to this sentence: "You, sat down." It should be "You sat down."
     
  9. Ghosts in Latin
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    Ghosts in Latin Senior Member

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    I don't think so, tbeverley — but I'm no expert on the matter.

    "You sat down." is not a command, nor is it asking someone to do anything.
    "You, sit down." is, and the comma is appropriate.

    My process of thought regarding the comma's correctness would be something like this (excuse me if it's a bit confusing):

    "You, raise your hands."
    "You, please raise your hands."
    "You who voted yes, please raise your hands."
    "Those of you who voted yes, please raise your hands."
    "Would those of you who voted yes, please raise your hands?"
     
  10. tbeverley
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    tbeverley Senior Member

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    It's not actually, "Raise your hands." The structure of the sentence is a question, whereas "raise your hands" is an imperative. If it were an imperative, you'd be right. However, it's a question. "Would you raise your hands?" Thus, if attempting to place the question in the form of an imperative, you'd have something like this: "Would you, raise your hands?"

    See what I'm getting at? It depends on the meaning of the sentence, the fact that it's a question and not an imperative. "See what I, am getting at?" is another example. :p

    Additionally, the "yes" must be placed in quotation marks, because it is refering to a specific word: yes. In any sentence, when refering to a word, such as a word from a dictionary, it must be in quotation marks.

    For example: A) He said the car was green. / He said "green." B) The Spanish word for "yes" is "si."

    Thus, in the sentence, "yes" must be enclosed in quotation marks.

    If it were an imperative sentence, it would read: Those of you who voted "yes," please raise your hands.

    In the form of a qustion, it would read: "Would those of you who voted "yes" please raise your hands?"

    In any case, "who" is used when refering to people; "that" is used when refering to animals or things. However, "who" might be used when refering to animals if the writer is attempting to suggest they are similar to people - cognizant and such.

    Anyway, I'm blabbering. :p I love grammar.
     
  11. Ghosts in Latin
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    Ghosts in Latin Senior Member

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    Ahh! I get what you're saying.

    One more question! Wouldn't, "See where I, who voted yes, am getting at?" be correct?

    Would, "Would those of you, who voted yes, please raise your hands?" be correct? Or not, because "who voted yes" is a necessary stipulation for the question to mean what's intended?
     
  12. tbeverley
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    tbeverley Senior Member

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    "See what [not "where" :p] I, who voted yes, am getting at?" is correct because "I, who voted yes," is the same thing as saying, "I." "Who voted yes" is a modifier of "I" and is put between commas because it is a paranthetical phrase. A paranthetical (sp) phrase is one that is not completely necessary to the sentence. For example, "See what I'm getting at?" could stand on its own as a sentence, and "who voted yes" is really just a paranthetical modifier of "I" that can be there if the writer feels it adds something.

    "Would those of you, who voted yes, please raise your hands?" is incorrect because the subject is not "those of you" but rather "those of you who voted yes." This is an essential modifier (the noun phrase is actually the entire phrase; "those of you who voted yes" is the noun phrase): "those of you" means little without "who voted yes." Thus, "who voted yes" is not written as a paranthetical remark because the sentence relies on that phrase.

    If you look at it without the essential modifier it would read: "Would those of you please raise your hands." Thus you need the "who voted yes" in order to have the sentence make sense.

    :p

    Yup, I'm a grammar nerd. I read dictionaries for fun.

    I'm bored, so I'm going to write about it. :p Essentially, any sentence contains three major parts: Subject, Verb, and Preposition.

    Subject:
    The subject always contains a noun, and that noun can be modified by other words to create a noun phrase. In this sentence, "you" is the noun, "those" is a pronoun modifying "you." "Those of you" is a noun phrase. It is the same thing as "chair," "he," "it." For example, "The black and decrepit chair" is a noun phrase.

    Verb:
    A verb explains the action of the subject. In this case, it is an imperative, "to raise." "Raise your hands," for example, is an imperative sentence using the imperative form of the verb "rise," which is "to raise." A verb, additionally, functions similarly to a noun: a verb phrase can be used: "The black and decrepit chair slowly stood up." "Slowly stood up" is a verb phrase.

    Preposition:
    A preposition is what the verb modifies. In this case, "your hands."

    In summary:

    "Would

    those of you who voted (Subject)

    raise (Infinitive Verb)

    your hands?" (Preposition)

    From there, any number of combinations is possible. "Would those of you who voted on the second day in January and who also had a pimple please raise, and raise them high, your grubby (or if you have taken a shower today, clean) hands."

    I could write about grammar all day. :p

    The point is that every sentence has a subject, a verb, and a preposition, and identifying those as independent parts of speech makes it a great deal easier to deal with problems of punctuation.
     
  13. Ghosts in Latin
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    Ghosts in Latin Senior Member

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    Ahh! Awesome.

    Thank you. :)
     
  14. tbeverley
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    tbeverley Senior Member

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    I just like to listen to myself talk. :p
     
  15. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    no... we don't 'get at' a 'where'... we 'get at' a 'what'... and it's a terribly contorted mess of a sentence, anyway... voting one way or another can have nothing to do with 'getting at' something, so it makes no sense, regardless of good or bad grammatical construction...

    no, because the commas don't belong there for any reason...

    an unnecessarily convoluted rationale, but the answer is 'not'...
     

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