Wednesday, September 30, 2009

That and Which

That is used to introduce essential phrases.
Which is used to introduce non-essential phrases.
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"The book that I referenced last week would be helpful."

That introduces an essential phrase. We don't know which book is being referred to without the essential phrase of "that I referenced last week."


"The book on grammar, which I referenced last week, would be helpful."

Which introduces a non-essential phrase. "The book on grammar would be helpful," still makes sense without the non-essential phrase of "which I referenced last week."

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THAT

What that is describing cannot be removed or the sentence will not make sense or convey the desired meaning.

That is used with essential phrases.
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"He attends a college that offers classes he needs to obtain his degree."

"He attends a college," does not convey the complete meaning of the sentence - "that offers classes he needs to obtain his degree" is an essential phrase.


"She enjoys books that are full of suspense."

"She enjoys books," is not the point - "that are full of suspense" is an essential phrase.

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WHICH

What which is describing can be removed and the meaning of the sentence will make sense and will convey the desired meaning.

Which is used with non-essential phrases and is usually surrounded by commas.
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"She wrote a blog, which included pertinent information, that was helpful to many readers."

"She wrote a blog that was helpful to many readers" still conveys the desired meaning - without the non-essential phrase of "which included pertinent information."


"His books, which contain much detail, are very popular."

"His books are very popular" relays the same message - without the non-essential phrase "which contain much detail."

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SYNOPSIS

What that describes is an essential phrase.

Removing what that is describing, results in the sentence not making sense or not conveying the desired meaning.
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What which describes is a non-essential phrase.

Which is almost always surrounded by commas.

Removing what which is describing results in the sentence still making sense and still conveying the desired meaning.

12 comments:

  1. Another excellent grammar lesson. Might I suggest Who and Whom. I actually know how to use them but have a bad habit of using who in every situation.

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  2. CC - Thanks for the compliment and the input! "Who and Whom" has officially been added to the list of posts to do!

    I really do appreciate it when you guys give me ideas or would like a certain topic or word(s) covered! Thanks for the suggestion!

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  3. Crystal, I think I'm going to print out all your posts and staple them together for my own style book. Thanks!

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  4. Alan: What an awesome compliment! It is so rewarding to hear that my posts are helpful (and understandable!)

    Thank you!

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  5. Diane: That's when it's handy to have a good editor to catch the tricky ones for you! :>)

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  6. Once again, a clear (crystal), concice, and easy to understand tutorial, my dear. And once again, I got it bookmarked. I'm putting together an editing/proofreading e-book for my personal use with the compilation of all these wonderful posts - thanks!

    The Old Silly

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  7. oops - should've written "concise" - sheesh, glad this wasn't one of your spelling challenge posts - lol.

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  8. I tagged you in the Entertainment Meme Diane started.

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  9. CC - My goodness, I have officially made note to continue reading further down on your posts...I completely missed that entire portion!

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  10. You are really rockin this grammar instruction! I am currently working on a short story for class, which must be submitted this week, and this was very helpful. Did I get it right?

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