Tuesday, June 23, 2009

That/which

that, which (pronouns) Use that and which in referring to inanimate objects and to animals without a name. Use that for essential clauses, important to the meaning of a sentence, and without commas: I remember the day that we met. Use which for nonessential clauses, where the pronoun is less necessary, and use commas: The team, which finished last a year ago, is in first place.

(Note that this formulation folds in a recommendation against that used to refer to human beings.)

Uniquely referring NPs like the only solution to the problem can have either sort of relative:

The only solution to the problem that will satisfy them is to abandon the project. [restrictive]

The only solution to the problem, which will satisfy them, is to abandon the project. [non-restrictive]

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