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  1. peachalulu

    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    That had or who had?

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by peachalulu, Nov 21, 2013.

    Ran into a snag. Here's a portion of the sentence. I had to alter it a bit - substituting men for creatures.

    The men, that had ripped down the fence, went over and ...


    Couldn't it also be - the men, who had ripped down the fence, went over...
     
  2. erebh

    erebh Contributing Member Contributor

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    what's wrong with, The men that ripped down the fence...? Problem solved in my book...
     
  3. peachalulu

    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    Well - hmm. Damn. It is that simple isn't it?
    I'm probably just trying to find a reason to procrastinate from Nanowrite.
     
  4. erebh

    erebh Contributing Member Contributor

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    wood...trees... :D
     
  5. thirdwind

    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    Grammar Girl has a page on this exact issue.
     
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  6. peachalulu

    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    Thanks!
     
  7. GingerCoffee

    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    I think @erebh is right, and @thirdwind's link answers your question.

    But you also have two commas I wouldn't use.

    The men, that had ripped down the fence, went over and ...

    I do believe "that" takes the place of the first comma which then makes the second one also unneeded.
     
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  8. peachalulu

    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    I need a comma boot camp. Right now I just sort of fling them around. Sprinkles on a cupcake. I'm probably missing commas
    in the previous sentence - instinct tells me - Right now, I just, sort of fling ...but I'm probably wrong.
     
  9. GingerCoffee

    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    :D
     
  10. Cogito

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Because it really should be "The men who had ripped down the fence..." 'Who' is the proper pronoun to refer to a person or persons in such situations.
     
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  11. Robert_S

    Robert_S Contributing Member

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    If I may, Grammar Girl might have something on it, from what I read in my book you're subordinating a phrase that doesn't need to be subordinate. It should be on the same grammatical level as the rest of the sentence.
     
  12. Simpson17866

    Simpson17866 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Since all of the more useful, relevant, and reasonable information has already been covered, I'd like to go in completely the opposite direction:

    One thing I'm currently doing is writing a character doesn't talk with relative pronouns at all if I can avoid it.
     
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  13. Cogito

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I have to be honest. It sounds like a cheap stunt. Different for the sake of different very rarely impresses anyone but the writer who comes up with it.

    Write clearly. Write well. Tell a good story with well-crafted characters. Eschew gimmicks and shiny baubles.
     
  14. GingerCoffee

    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Apparently I misread @erebh. I really need to slow down, too much coffee and too much to do.

    I thought he suggested, "The men ripped down the fence, went over and..."

    I agree, it's a person so one uses 'who' and one uses 'that' for a thing.
     
  15. Simpson17866

    Simpson17866 Contributing Member Contributor

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    I realize that syntax is not the MOST important part of developing a character and his/her voice, that the character's perceptions, decisions, and reactions are the MOST important parts, but I have found a lot of people who say that unobtrusive syntax quirks can still be A part of the mix.

    Would you like me to PM you a more in-depth look at the full character I'm talking about?
     
  16. lex

    lex Contributing Member

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    This sounds interesting.

    It's a technique which has been used very successfully by John Le Carré (among others), in at least two of his bestselling books - one of which I'm just re-reading at the moment.
     
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  17. mammamaia

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    exactly!... 'that' = a thing and 'who' = a person...
     
  18. Mckk

    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Definitely "who". Why would you use "that"? It's a man, it's a "who". So yeah, simple, but surprised that the first few responses all seemed to agree upon the wrong option!
     
  19. KaTrian

    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I checked the Grammar Girl link. Interesting. So basically you could use "that" there. To people who are used to the clear-cut people=who, things=that it would look odd, though.

    My high school English teacher did say you're not gonna get lynched for using "that" 'cause native speakers use it quite a lot, but at the same time she did draw a red wriggle under it if used in a sentence like "men, that..."

    I'd say, in dialogue 'that' would be fine, then, but in narration (unless 1st person or heavily "personified" 3rd), better go for the rule of thumb: things and animals and possibly corpses/zombies are thats and humans are whos.
     
  20. madhoca

    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    If you put a comma there, you make the relative clause non-defining. You can't use "that" in a non-defining relative clause, so it has to be:
    The men, who had ripped down the fence, ............... (note the closing comma)
    However, I'd say this should really be a defining relative clause, which makes the correct sentence:
    The men who/that ripped down the fence............... (note that there are no commas)
    You can use either who OR that in a defining relative clause.
    I had not realised some people perceive this as a "grey issue". The guidelines I give above about defining/non defining relative clauses are absolutely standard in every intermediate grammar book I've ever consulted, or more importantly, taught from! Make life easy for yourselves and follow them.
     
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2013
  21. robertpri007

    robertpri007 Member

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    I'm interested. Titles of those books?
     
  22. lex

    lex Contributing Member

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    One of them is The Tailor of Panama. I can't at the moment remember the other, but I remember thinking - on finding "that character" in the Panama Book - "Ah yes, this technique was also used in a later book I liked". It might be Our Game, but no promises. :oops:

    (A "funny book", Our Game: some wonderful writing, but perhaps the most frustrating and disappointing ending I've seen in a Le Carré book).
     
  23. robertpri007

    robertpri007 Member

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    Hmmm, I think I have every La Carre book except that one.
     
  24. lex

    lex Contributing Member

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    That's a lot of books. I have only about 19/20 of them, I think. (And I haven't read A Delicate Truth yet. Our Kind of Traitor disappointed me, so I might even wait for the paperback).
     
  25. mammamaia

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    i just caught the film version of 'the tailor of panama' on cable the other night... a thoroughly enjoyable romp with stellar performances by geoffery rush [as usual] and pierce brosnan [to my surprise!]... had read it years ago and thought the adaptation was pretty well done...

    i've also read most, if not all of le carre's work...
     

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