Demystifying Grammar: Which vs. That

I use Grammarly for free proofreading because every time you publish a typo, the errorists win!

This week’s inspirational quote:

It is perfectly okay to write garbage—as long as you edit brilliantly.

– C.J. Cherryh

Demystifying Grammar

This is a weekly installment of a series on commonly confused grammar rules I call Demystifying Grammar. Wouldn’t it be great if we understood those confusing and fickle little rules so we could focus on writing? I think so too. It has been said that the English language is one of the hardest to learn, so don’t worry if you need a little help now and then. Welcome to this week’s Demystifying Grammar. Those of you who slept through English class pay attention.

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Which vs. That

 Here is the basic rule of thumb: If the sentence doesn’t need the clause that the word in question is connecting, use which. If it does, use that.

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

  • The which clause in this sentence provides additional information and can be removed without changing the meaning of the sentence.

Our office that has two lunchrooms is located in Cincinnati.

  • The that phrase is a restrictive clause because another part of the sentence depends on it. It cannot be removed without changing the meaning of the sentence.

The bottom line: If the information is essential, use “that.” If it is just additional information that is useful but unnecessary, use “which.”

Test what you learned:

1.) The iPad (which/that) connects to the iCloud was created by Apple.

2.) The cover of People Magazine (which/that) has Johnny Depp’s picture on it is my favorite because he is the sexiest man alive.

Correct answers:

1.) which

  • It is common knowledge that all iPads connect to the iCloud, so this is unnecessary information.

2.) that

  • My favorite cover of People Magazine is not just any old cover. It is the specific cover with Johnny Depp’s picture on it; therefore, the phrase is necessary to understanding which is my favorite cover. Without that phrase, the sentence loses meaning.

Thank for stopping by, Grammarians. See you next time!

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1 Comment

Filed under Demystifying Grammar, Inspirational Mondays, Uncategorized

One response to “Demystifying Grammar: Which vs. That

  1. Thanks! I have learned another useful information here. Personally, I also used the Grammarly site and I found it very helpful. However, I frequently ask help from an online proofreading and editing services. They provide high quality proofreading service for both students and professionals.

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