Grammarly Which Vs That?

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The words that and which are sometimes confusing for writers. This article will explain the difference between these two clauses and when to use each one.

What is a Clause?

A clause is a group of words that includes a subject and a verb. It is different from a phrase because a phrase can’t have both a subject and a verb. The subject of a clause can be either a noun or a pronoun, but the verb must be finite. In English, there are several types of clauses, including main clauses, subordinate clauses and coordinate clauses. Clauses make up the basic building blocks of sentences, so it’s important to understand them.

There are many ways to define a clause, but two important characteristics are the presence of a finite verb and the appearance of a focusing word (i.e. a wh-word). The presence of both of these is essential for clauses to function properly. A clause can be a sentence, or it can be part of a larger sentence. A clause can be a complete thought, or it can leave an idea unfinished.

For example, “Shelby jogs after class” is a clause because it has both a subject (Shelby) and a verb (jogs). However, the sentence can also be a complete thought when we remove the second clause.

Dependent clauses are clauses that can’t stand alone as a sentence because they don’t contain a complete idea. They need to be linked to an independent clause using a subordinating conjunction.

For example, “The novel that won the Pulitzer Prize didn’t sell well when it was first published.” The independent clause is the novel and the dependent clause is the fact that the book won the Pulitzer prize. Dependent clauses often start with words such as “how,” “that,” or other WH-words, and they usually sit right after the noun that they modify. These are known as adjective (or relative) clauses.

Restrictive Clauses

A restrictive clause is a part of a sentence that adds crucial identifying information about the noun antecedent. These are often introduced by the words that, who, what, or whose. They are also sometimes called essential clauses, as removing them would change the meaning of a sentence.

A nonrestrictive clause is a part of a sentence adding nonessential information. This information is not necessary to understand a noun, and it can be removed from the sentence without destroying its meaning. These are usually introduced by the word which. If a sentence contains a nonrestrictive clause, it will be surrounded by commas.

The difference between these two types of clauses is important to know, as it can affect the tone and meaning of a piece of writing. However, these rules can be a bit confusing, and many writers use that and which interchangeably (though they should not). The Fowler brothers, who were grammarians, wrote a set of rules about when to use which and when to use that in 1906. These rules are now standard and have been adopted by many usage guides.

If you are unsure whether to use that or which, the easiest rule of thumb is that which should be used for nonrestrictive clauses and that should be used for restrictive clauses. However, there are many exceptions to this rule, as some people prefer the sound of which more than that.

For example, some people like to use which when referring to humans instead of who. This is acceptable, though it is not a formal style of writing.