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