RE: Which, that grammar

Subject: RE: Which, that grammar
From: "Sella Rush" <srush -at- MusicNet -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 13 Feb 2002 11:39:43 -0800

My friends wouldn't actually call me a grammar quibbler, but here goes...

Restrictive (use 'that') versus non-restrictive (use 'which') clause use is quite simple to determine (although not so easy to explain).

"If an election is submitted with a tender price which has already been bid on..."

The relevant subject here (I think) is 'election submitted with a tender price', the clause is 'which/that has already been bid on'. The question is: does the clause *define or restrict* which tender prices you're talking about, or does it merely provide descriptive information about tender prices?


"If an election is submitted with a tender price, which has already been bid on,..."


"If an election is submitted with a tender price that has already been bid on..."

In the first example, you are talking about *all* elections submitted with a tender price, and you are adding the informational tidbit that they have already been bid on. (A clue here would be if all submitted elections/tender prices have been bid on!)

In the second example, you are restricting the elections you are talking about to only those submitted with an already bid-on tender price.

This is actually a very complex sentence structure. To illustrate restrictive clauses, here's a simpler example:

"All dogs, which are blue, must stand in the green circle."

"All dogs that are blue must stand in the green circle."

The first example refers to *all* dogs and adds the informational tidbit that all dogs are blue. The second example restricts the subject to all blue dogs.

A radical difference.

Sella Rush
technical writer
srush -at- musicnet -dot- com

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