Tag Archives: grammar rules

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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Inspirational Mondays – Demystifying Grammar: Who vs. Whom

I have decided to start a weekly blog post here on my editing blog called Inspirational Mondays specifically to inspire writers because, after all, editors need writers to keep writing. Otherwise, what would we have to edit? I chose Mondays in particular because it seems we could all use a little inspirational pick-me-up on Monday.

This week’s Inspirational Mondays inspirational quote:

Imagery does not occur on the writer’s page, it occurs in the reader’s mind.

– Stephen King

Demystifying Grammar

This is the second week 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 the first week of Demystifying Grammar. Those of you who slept through English class pay attention.

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Who vs. Whom

This rule is confusing, and you can’t always use the “whichever sounds best” solution that sometimes works. Fortunately, the rule is easy to follow once you understand the difference between who and whom.

  • Who is used as the subject of a verb or as the complement of a linking verb. It’s what is known as a nominative pronoun, or the subject of a sentence.

Who threw the ball and broke the window?

It was Billy who threw the ball that broke the window.

  • Whom is used as the object of the verb or the object of a preposition. It’s what is known as an objective pronoun, or the direct object.

You asked whom to go the movies?

He’s already going to the dance with whom?

The bottom line: use who if it can be replaced with “he”; if “him” fits better, use whom.

  • If you are struggling with which one to use in a particular sentence, it will help to split the sentence in order to see it.

It was Billy | who (he) threw the ball that broke the window.

You asked whom (him) | to go the movies?

Sometimes in dialogue, purposeful misuse can bring authenticity to a character as correct usage has the potential to sound too formal. When in doubt, just rewrite the sentence and avoid it altogether.

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Inspirational Mondays – Demystifying Grammar: Effect or Affect

I have decided to start a weekly blog post here on my editing blog called Inspirational Mondays specifically to inspire writers because, after all, editors need writers to keep writing. Otherwise, what would we have to edit? I chose Mondays in particular because it seems we could all use a little inspirational pick-me-up on Monday.

This week’s Inspirational Mondays inspirational quote:

Try to leave out the parts that people tend to skip. – Elmore Leonard

Demystifying Grammar

Starting this week, I will be doing a series on commonly confused grammar rules called 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 the first week of Demystifying Grammar. Those of you who slept through English class pay attention.

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Effect or Affect

How do I know when to use effect and when to use affect?

This one can be very confusing, and I still have to think about it sometimes. But here’s the short answer: effect is a noun while affect is a verb in the vast majority of cases.

  • Effect (noun) – Something (A) has an effect on something else (B).

The beautiful weather had a positive effect on my mood.

In this sentence, the weather (A) has an effect on my mood (B).

  • Affect (verb) – Something (A) affects something else (B).

All the distractions negatively affected my ability to write.

In this sentence, the distractions (A) directly influence the ability to write (B).

The bottom line: when in doubt, assume that effect is a noun and affect is a verb, then use accordingly.

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