1. OurJud

    OurJud Contributor Contributor

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    That Vs Which

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by OurJud, Sep 17, 2017.

    I know this has cropped up dozens of times, but I couldn't find anything in a search. The answers on other sites don't make much sense.

    Which is correct, please, and why?

    There's been nothing in the news bulletins WHICH interrupted the ads cast over every wall and building in the city.

    There's been nothing in the news bulletins THAT interrupted the ads cast over every wall and building in the city.
     
  2. Spencer1990

    Spencer1990 Contributor Contributor

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  3. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin I don't feel tardy.... Staff Supporter Contributor

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  4. OurJud

    OurJud Contributor Contributor

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    @Spencer1990 and @Homer Potvin - that's the exact site I looked at and I don't understand it.

    You say if I can remove the 'that/which' without altering the meaning?

    Can you give me an example of a sentence that (which??) uses 'which', where the 'which' could be removed and the sentence still make sense, cos that's the part pecking with my head?
     
  5. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin I don't feel tardy.... Staff Supporter Contributor

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    From the writer's digest article (he says it much better than I can):

    Our office, which has two lunchrooms, is located in Cincinnati.
    Our office that has two lunchrooms is located in Cincinnati.

    These sentences are not the same. The first sentence tells us that you have just one office, and it’s located in Cincinnati. The clause which has two lunchrooms gives us additional information, but it doesn’t change the meaning of the sentence. Remove the clause and the location of our one office would still be clear: Our office is located in Cincinnati.

    The second sentence suggests that we have multiple offices, but the office with two lunchrooms is located in Cincinnati. The phrase that has two lunchrooms is known as a restrictive clause because another part of the sentence (our office) depends on it. You can’t remove that clause without changing the meaning of the sentence.


    Personally, I go by feel. "That" should always be the default (I think) unless there's a specific reason to use "which." And if there's a comma before the clause in question (for whatever reason) I know to go with "which," though there are probably exceptions.
     
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  6. OurJud

    OurJud Contributor Contributor

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    @Homer Potvin, I get this example, but it's only true because the content between commas becomes a clause. My sentence doesn't include a clause.
     
  7. big soft moose

    big soft moose An Admoostrator Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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  8. Spencer1990

    Spencer1990 Contributor Contributor

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    If I'm understanding what I've read, then your example is correct with 'that' instead of 'which.' Because there's nothing being modified or added, which would necessitate a 'which.'
     
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  9. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin I don't feel tardy.... Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Which means that you're not offering additional information to the essence of the sentence, so you default to "that." (I think)

    There's been nothing in the news bulletins THAT interrupted the ads cast over every wall and building in the city.

    As opposed to this:

    There's been nothing in the news bulletins, WHICH interrupted the ads cast over every wall and building in the city, to suggest that the zombies had reached the city.

    The second example adds a third clause THAT offers additional information.

    The second example, WHICH offers additional information, adds a third clause.
     
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  10. Seven Crowns

    Seven Crowns Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Currently Reading::
    "The Master and Margarita" by Mikhail Bulgakov
    You're asking for a non-restrictive which. Non-restrictive means it's not necessary, so it gets commas that set it aside:

    The honey badger, which is really pretty badass, eats a house full of bees. Gross!​

    But please keep this in mind: which can be substituted for that in a restrictive clause -- Chicago Manual of Style.
    Meaning, you can't do this (because it's non-restrictive):

    The honey badger, that is really pretty badass, eats a house full of bees. Gross!​

    But you can do this:

    Non-restrictive means it's not necessary, so it gets commas which set it aside.​

    It's one of those prescriptivist fake-rules from the 19th century (don't split the infinitive, don't end a sentence with a preposition, don't start with a conjunction, etc.). This one's from the 1850s. It gets ignored a lot. I wish I had the percentages, because they're pretty high. If I remember right, American English swaps it out 20% of the time, and Brit English about 50% (they're practically indifferent to it). So other than that bit about that in the non-restrictive clause, it's not much of a rule.

    A day which will live in infamy.
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2017
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  11. OurJud

    OurJud Contributor Contributor

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    I'm still confused, but this sounds better anyway. Mine is a bit of a clumsy run-on sentence.

    But please, don't ever put zombies in my stories again :D
     
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  12. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin I don't feel tardy.... Staff Supporter Contributor

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    There's been nothing in the news bulletins, WHICH interrupted the ads cast over every wall and building in the city, to suggest that the bisexual, nymphomaniac sirens were in any danger of returning home soon.
     
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  13. jannert

    jannert Retired Mod Supporter Contributor

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    Everybody has at least one bugbear grammar issue, I reckon, and this is one of mine. I understand the difference between restrictive and non-restrictive clauses. What I keep forgetting is which one uses 'which' and which one uses 'that.' I have to keep looking it up. Keeps me humble? More like 'makes me mumble.' :wtf:
     

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