Re: That and Which--is it worth it?

Subject: Re: That and Which--is it worth it?
From: Lori Lathrop <76620 -dot- 456 -at- COMPUSERVE -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 16 Dec 1994 09:42:51 EST

In response to Gail DeCamp (INTERNET:decampg -at- SMTPLINK -dot- NGC -dot- COM), who wrote:

> I have a that/which question. I've had reputable sources tell me that
> there are distinct rules for using "that" and "which"....namely, that
> one is restrictive and the other is not. [snip]

> Does anyone else out there follow this rule? It seems pretty subtle to
> me. (If it changed the meaning of a sentence, I might worry about it,
> but otherwise I would not.)

Gail -- That's the general rule that most editors follow and, I agree,
it *is* awfully subtle. My venerable old copy of Fowler's _Modern
English Usage_ helps make the distinction a little clearer; it says:

"The two kinds of relative clause, to one of which *that* and
to the other of which *which* is appropriate, are the defining
and the non-defining; & if writers would agree to regard *that*
as the defining relative pronoun, & *which* as the non-defining,
there would be much gain both in lucidity & in ease....

"A defining relative clause is one that identifies the person
or thing meant by limiting the denotation of the antecedant;
~Each made a list of books that had influenced him;~ not books
generally, but books as defined by the that-clause. Contrast
with that: ~I always buy his books, which have influenced me
greatly;~ the clause does not limit *his books*,which needs no
limitation; it gives a reason (= for they have), or adds a new
fact (= & they have)...."

Hope this helps. BTW, Fowler's is out of print, but you can probably
find one in a good used book store.

Lori Lathrop ----------> INTERNET:76620 -dot- 456 -at- compuserve -dot- com
Lathrop Media Services
Georgetown, CO

Previous by Author: Re: a job as editor
Next by Author: Why 2400? It's Faster Than Nothing!
Previous by Thread: That and Which--is it worth it?
Next by Thread: Re: That and Which--is it worth it?

What this post helpful? Share it with friends and colleagues:

Sponsored Ads