1. seixal

    seixal Member

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    Connecting the main clause with "who" or "that"?

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by seixal, Jan 11, 2017.

    "He looked like a service man THAT was running late for a parade."
    "He looked like a service man WHO was running late for a parade."

    Which of the 2 is grammatically correct?
     
  2. Wreybies

    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Option 2 is the better option in that there is concordance between the pronoun and the animate personhood of the thing it represents from the prior clause. Option 1 is idiomatically acceptable and common, but I would say it is of a lesser degree of concordance.
     
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  3. Wreybies

    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Just as a side-note, I find it to be a greater error to apply the pronouns meant for animate persons to inanimate or abstract concepts rather than the other way around.

    This was a plan whose only aim was to harm the masses.

    The above example sets my left eye to twitching, though again, it is a commonly seen construction. :confuzled:
     
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  4. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin Bing Bang Boom

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    "He looked like a service man running late for a parade." No who or that needed in a stylistic sense. Not in fiction anyway.
     
  5. Mckk

    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    How else are you supposed to connect it though? Or are you supposed to simply write it differently lol.
     
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  6. BayView

    BayView Contributor Contributor

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    This was a plan that's only aim was to harm the masses. ? Is that the right answer?
     
  7. Wreybies

    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Supporter Contributor

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    For the sake of argument, and to keep that particular piece of syntax in play:

    This was a plan the only aim of which was to harm the masses.

    I know that feels stuffy to young readers, but I remain a fan of the of which. ;)

    Otherwise, yes, a simple reword to remove the need for the pronoun heading a dependent clause.

    The only aim of this plan was to harm the masses.
     
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  8. Simpson17866

    Simpson17866 Contributor Contributor

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    I have a guy in my Doctor Who story only talks like that ;)

    (as opposed to "I have a guy in my Doctor Who story [who] only talks like that")

    ... Though "who = person, that = thing" is the technically correct.
     
  9. jannert

    jannert Member Supporter Contributor

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    I've always operated on the basis that 'who' only applies to people. However, I've notice there is some controversy over whether "who" can also can apply to an animal (or a pet) as well. Slightly off topic, but what do you guys think?
     
  10. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin Bing Bang Boom

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    "This was a plan to harm the masses." Not a great sentence, but eight one-syllable words are better than nine. Pretty crappy tell too. If masses are going to be harmed, there's a good chance we'll recognize it when it happens.
     
  11. BayView

    BayView Contributor Contributor

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    Certainly a pet - any animal we anthopomorphize, I'd say.
     
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  12. jannert

    jannert Member Supporter Contributor

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    I've encountered this before—in my own writing and other people's as well—and have been minded to change it. But changing it depersonalised :rolleyes: the animal and made it feel like an 'it,' which didn't seem right. I've never been sure. I suspect it's one of those things that will bother some people and not bother others.
     

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