RE: It's what It's

Subject: RE: It's what It's
From: "Elizabeth O'Shea" <elizabeth -dot- oshea -at- virtualaccess -dot- com>
To: "'Watson Laughton'" <wlaughton -at- orphan -dot- com>, "'TECHWR-L'" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 16 Feb 2004 14:42:11 -0000

Watson asked:

I wonder if that means they truly "seldom observe the distinction" and
them as synonymous (leading to constructions such as "The celebration,
is what has brought us together this evening, will be held in the
or if they just do a one-way swap of "which" for "that" because of its
erudition to the ears of the common man, sort of à la "between she and

Yes, English speakers in Europe use 'which' instead of 'that' all the
time, intending the same meaning as 'that' has.

Because I work as a tech writer, when I teach English I teach my
students the distinctions between 'which' and 'that'. I do this because
sentences can be ambiguous if you use 'which' in place of 'that'. I
teach them this mnemonic: if you can put a comma before which and the
sentence still makes sense, then you should use 'which' instead of

When I teach Plain English, I don't teach the distinction, although I
think it's an important part of creating plain English. But since the
Plain English Campaign doesn't use it, neither do I.

If you use 'which' <ahem> correctly by never using it instead of 'that',
English speakers here won't generally notice. Also, everyone is so
accustomed to reading US English that our eyes just glide over funny
spellings and so forth.


elizabeth -dot- oshea -at- virtualaccess -dot- com


RE: It's what It's: From: Watson Laughton

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