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English Grammar and Writing Tips:
     Using "Which", "That" and "Who" Correctly

Grammar <<< English Grammar and Writing Tips <<< Using "Which", "That" and "Who"





"Which" and "that" can be used as relative pronouns. "That" is used as a relative pronoun in a restrictive (essential) clause and "which" is used in a non-restrictive (non-essential) clause. A restrictive clause provides essential information and cannot be taken out without destroying the meaning of the sentence. A non-restrictive clause adds useful information, but not information that is essential to the sentence. To decide between "which" or "that", you have to ask yourself how important is the provided information to the rest of the sentence.

Everything that she said was true. (correct)
Everything which she said was true. (incorrect!)

He looked at her eyes, which were beautiful. (correct)
He looked at her eyes that were beautiful. (incorrect!)

Sometimes, both "that" and "which" are correct in a given sentence but the meaning is different:

Our car that is in front of the house has to be repaired. (correct)
(we own more than one car and the car that is in front of the house has to be repaired; this information is essential)

Our car, which is in front of the house, has to be repaired. (correct)
(we own only one car and it has to be repaired; additional information is that the car is in front of the house)

Remember that we usually put commas around a "which" clause but never around a "that" clause:

The book, which I bought last week, was very interesting. (correct)
The book that I bought last week was very interesting. (correct)

We use "who" in a relative clause when we are talking about people:

Tina's father, who is a doctor, works in a large hospital. (correct)
Tina's father that is a doctor works in a large hospital. (incorrect!)
Tina's father which is a doctor works in a large hospital. (incorrect!)

"That" usually refers to things and groups, but sometimes it can also refer to people:

The girl who/that lives next door is so beautiful. (correct)
The girl which lives next door is so beautiful. (incorrect!)

When "who" or "that" are objects of the verb in a relative clause we can leave them out:

The man who/that I talked to was really nice. (correct)
= The man I talked to was really nice. (correct)








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