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Please can someone give me an idiot's guide to the use of WHICH or THAT

(27 Posts)
FreckledLeopard Thu 14-Mar-13 17:36:51

I'm a pedant. I'm a lawyer for crying out loud. Yet I do not understand when to use that and when to use which. I've just looked at a load of grammar sites and am still none the wiser.

Please please put me out of my misery (without referring to restrictive or non-restrictive clauses)!

NotTreadingGrapes Sat 16-Mar-13 08:32:09

The defining and non-defining relative clause thingy <<<technical word there is easier to understand with a "who" sentence:

My sister who is a nurse lives in Birmingham.
My sister, who is a nurse, lives in Birmingham.

How many sisters?

Sentence 1- I have more than 1 sister, therefore the "who is a nurse" can't be lifted out of the sentence and still make it comprehensible as to which one I mean.

Sentence 2 - I only have 1 sister and am giving you some extra (and non-essential) information. I could lift that bit between the commas out and you would still know who I am talking about.

That can replace which/who (but is considered less formal) in defining clauses only. (rule of thumb, if both which/that can be used, which is "more correct" (ie sounds better and more formal)

NotMostPeople Sat 16-Mar-13 08:33:42

Brilliant I get it now.

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