Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Those pain-in-the-ass words...

Which vs. That.

If they are a pain in your behind, don't worry, they give lots of people grief. It's all tied up between restrictive and non-restrictive clauses.

A restrictive clause limits, or restricts, the scope of the noun it is referring to. For example...

The house that is painted white burnt down. (Restrictive Clause)

In this sentence, we are talking about the "white" house specifically. If we take out "that is painted white" the sentence loses important information. We no longer have any clue what house burnt down.

The house, which is painted white, burnt down. (Non-restrictive Clause)

In this sentence, "which is painted white" is added information that can be discarded and the sentence wouldn't be harmed. The clause isn't essential for the meaning.

Also, that isn't separated from the rest of the sentence with commas.

Which needs separated by commas showing parenthesis.

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