RE: that vs who

Subject: RE: that vs who
From: "Combs, Richard" <richard -dot- combs -at- Polycom -dot- com>
To: "Peter Neilson" <neilson -at- windstream -dot- net>, "techwr-l" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 2 Apr 2009 12:27:34 -0600

Peter Neilson wrote:

> "Any user >who< desires good results follows the instructions
> "Any user >that< desires good results follows the instructions

>From a Random House Dictionary usage note (at

"Some grammarians have argued that only who and not that should be used
to introduce a restrictive relative clause that identifies a person.
This restriction has no basis either in logic or in the usage of the
best writers; it is entirely acceptable to write either the woman that
wanted to talk to you or the woman who wanted to talk to you."

I prefer "who" except when multiple instances of it make a sentence
harder to parse. Sometimes changing the pronoun clarifies the

But in any situation remotely like the example, I'd solve the problem by
changing the sentence from third person to second:

"For good results, follow the instructions carefully."


Richard G. Combs
Senior Technical Writer
Polycom, Inc.
richardDOTcombs AT polycomDOTcom
rgcombs AT gmailDOTcom


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that vs who: From: Peter Neilson

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